<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:25:43 -0800 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:25:43 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Who Shoveled the Boston Marathon Finish Line?]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:50:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/boston+marathon+finish+snow+photo1.JPG

The whodunnit from Tuesday’s blizzard -- Who shoveled the snow off the Boston Marathon’s finish line? -- has been solved. At least partially.

One of the mystery men has been identified as Chris Laudani, a runner and bartender at the Back Bay Social Club on Boylston Street. He has run the Boston Marathon a few times and is just a fanatic about it, said Ryan Swann, the club's general manager.

"He was actually working that day and then he asked if he could borrow the shovel for a little bit so he could go do it," Swann said.

Laudani told Boston magazine that he wanted to send a message.

"I love the Boston Marathon and everything it stands for," he said. "The finish line doesn’t deserve to be covered in snow.”

But he is not a hero, a word being used about him on social media, he told the magazine.

"I’m just a nut who loves the marathon," he said. "The real heroes are the people who were out there clearing the streets and sidewalks, the [Boston Police Department], and the [Boston Fire Department] who risk their lives every day to keep people safe."

Philip Hillman took photos of what appears to be Laudani clearing the spot from the Charlesmark Hotel on Boylston Street and he started the search.

He and others began tweeting with the hashtag #whoshoveledthefinishline in hopes of finding Laudani.

“I had no idea it would have this response,” Hillman told Runner’s World in the wake of the storm, which dumped 18.5 inches in Boston on Tuesday.

Hillman, the northeast district manager of the Rodney Strong Wine Estates in Healdsburg, California, told NBC that he had stayed overnight at the hotel because of the blizzard and was working in his room around noon on Tuesday when he stood up to stretch. He looked at the window and spotted the then mystery shoveler.

“And I said, ‘How cool is that?’” he said. “This city loves the marathon and that little patch of ground is like sacred ground.”

So he took a photo with his iPhone, another of the finish line alone and put it first on Facebook and then Twitter.

“And the rest is history,” he said. “My buddy, he retweeted it and it’s been ongoing. I think we broke Twitter.”

By Wednesday afternoon, even the Boston police department was tweeting the photos.

Hillman said Laudani was there for about a half hour keeping the snow off as it fell.

Another photographer, Adam Reynolds, got a close-up.

And apparently, a second man also was out in the blizzard doing the same thing. Kelsey Karkos took a photograph of him and wrote on Instagram: "The guy was so nice to shovel off the #bostonmarathon finish line today to remind us why we go out there and run #everyday even in the blizzard! #bostonstrong #boston."

She wrote that he saw her looking for the finish line while he was shoveling the sidewalk.

"He knew exactly what I was looking for and came over to help me!," she wrote. "Such a great person with some boston spirit during the blizzard! I wish I knew his name!"

The marathon will be run this year on April 18.

Jury selection in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of setting off two bombs near the finish line in 2013, was delayed because of the blizzard. The attack killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, was killed during a shoot-out with police.

Photo Credit: Philip Hillman II
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Christmas Tree Suspected in Fire]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:06:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Boone+Pyle+family1.jpg

A 15-foot-tall Christmas tree may have sparked a massive fire that killed six family members at an Annapolis-area mansion, sources say. 

Officials will release the findings of their investigation at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

According to a preliminary investigation, the fire was an accident that may have begun in a Christmas tree on display in the family's great room.

The victims were grandparents Don and Sandy Pyle, and four grandchildren, the parents of the children have said. 

Investigators found the remains of the final victim Monday, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.

The parents said the children -- two sets of cousins -- were in the mansion near Annapolis when a massive four-alarm fire tore through the home early Jan. 19. Last week, they shared memories of sisters Alexis and Kaitlyn Boone, 8 and 7; and siblings Charlotte and Wesley Boone, 8 and 6.

"Life is fragile. Make time today to embrace your loved ones," a statement from the Boone and Pyle families read in part.

Alexis and Kaitlyn are the daughters of Randy and Stacey Boone, while Charlotte and Wesley are the children of Clint Boone and his ex-wife Eve Morrison. The family says Clint and Randy are the sons of Sandra Pyle and the stepsons of Don Pyle.

Fire officials say the home did not have a sprinkler system. An alarm monitoring company and a neighbor who saw flames reported the fire in the 900 block of Childs Point Road in Annapolis about 3:30 a.m. that morning, said Capt. Russ Davies, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

The families said in a statement that they "are blessed that so many family, friends, and neighbors have come together for us in our time of need."

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more shortly.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA["Sisters" Turn Out to Support Loretta Lynch's AG Bid ]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:27:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/loretta+lynch.jpg

Loretta Lynch had no shortage of sister support as she fielded questions from a U.S. Senate committee in her bid to become the first black woman to serve as the nation's attorney general.

At least ten members of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, attended the top Brooklyn prosecutor's confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, according to a photo posted by Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty, another alumna.

The "Deltas" in both Beatty's photo and another picture of the packed committee room posted by Rep. Alma Adams donned the African American Greek organization's signature colors of crimson and cream, as Time.com noted.

Lynch, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed current Attorney General Eric Holder, was reportedly a founding member of Delta Sigma Theta's chapter at Harvard University.

Holder's wife was also a charter member, according to reports and the chapter website.

Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Family Finds 13.5 Pounds of Pot Inside Van Door]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:23:39 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/NC_potinvan0127001.jpg

A family in New Mexico found more than thirteen pounds of marijuana inside the door of their van, which police believed had been hidden by the previous owner.

Melodie Peil, a mother of seven, who had the van for 13 years, said the discovery was made by a family friend when he was replacing a door handle. Peil said she had no knowledge that pot was inside the door panel. The Alamogordo Police Department believed the marijuana was there for least 15 years.

"We pulled it out of the door it was packed so hard, like a brick and it was wrapped maybe 10-12 times with saran wrap," Peil told NBC affiliate station KOB.

Bryan Reyes, the family friend, described the discovery as a “two-pound brick.”

"When I first pulled out the brick ... I was like, 'holy cow,' so I put it on the chair and I looked and there was like six more bricks,” he said in an interview with KOB. “I was like, 'this is a lot of marijuana.”

The family said they've driven through border patrol checkpoints at least ten times. New Mexico authorities never suspected anything either.

The van was bought from a used car lot in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Police said there are holes in the back door, which indicated that the car was likely used for smuggling drugs before the family purchased it.

"It's insane," said Kayleigh Anderson, another family member. "My mind is so completely blown about this happening. Don't think it can't ever happen to you because we never would have expected this to happen to us. Just a normal small-town family, we would have never expected that, so just always be cautious."

Police believe there is likely more marijuana hidden in the van. The family is taking it to a border patrol checkpoint Tuesday for further inspection

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Drone Captures Beautiful Sunset]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:32:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/drone-sunset-still.jpg Jonathan Harper's drone caught a colorful sunset over New York City, one day after a storm covered the city in snow. ]]> <![CDATA[Dramatic Images: Blizzard of 2015]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:23:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/462349900_Blizzard.jpg A storm packing blizzard conditions spun up the East Coast early Tuesday, pounding parts of coastal New Jersey northward through Maine with high winds and heavy snow.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Crashes New Lamborghini Into Telephone Pole]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:22:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/1-28-2015-Lambo.JPG

A driver crashed his new $400,000 Lamborghini Murcielago into a telephone pole in Los Angeles early Wednesday.

The incident happened on Sepulveda Boulevard near Getty Center Drive at around 1 a.m, Los Angeles Police Department said.

The driver told officers at the scene he had swerved to avoid an animal, and then crashed into the pole. He also said he had only recently purchased the high-powered, limited-production sportscar.

Although police checked the driver at the scene for DUI, he was not arrested.

Photo Credit: Newsreel]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Seize 74 Rabbits Left in Snow]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:10:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Snow-Rabbit-Generic.jpg

NYPD officers hopped to the rescue of more than 70 rabbits stuck outside in a Brooklyn lot during Monday’s blizzard, the Daily News reports.

The newspaper says officers seized 74 bunnies that had been left outside at a property in Gowanus after their owner didn't obey an order to bring them inside.

Officers were initially called to the lot at Third Avenue and Ninth Street after getting a call from a witness who saw the bunnies bounding about in the show.

The officers reportedly told the property’s owners to bring the rabbits inside and left. But they got a second call at about 7:30 p.m. from another witness who said the animals were still outside.

Officers then got a warrant to seize the bunnies, the News reports, and took them to the city’s Animal Care and Control offices.

The ASPCA told the News that the rabbits were in danger because of the blizzard.

The rabbits’ owner was not charged with any crimes because police told the News she was “reluctantly cooperative” and agreed to help round them up. It’s not clear if the animals will be returned.

Animal advocates had been raising concerns about the health of the rabbits before they were seized Monday, DNAinfo reports. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office told the news website it was investigating whether the animals were victims of neglect or cruel treatment.

Photo Credit: Patrick Pleul/picture-alliance/d]]>
<![CDATA[Tiger Woods Explains Tooth Incident]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:22:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tiger+woods6.JPG

Tiger Woods finally explained how he lost his tooth while watching his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn capture her record 63rd World Cup title in Italy a week ago.

The golf champ’s publicist previously told The Associated Press that after the Jan. 19 competition, “a media member with a shoulder-mounted video camera pushed and surged toward the stage, turned and hit Tiger Woods in the mouth.”

“I had my mask on, so no one knew who I was, trying to blend in because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, OK?,” Woods told reporters after playing at the Phoenix Open. “That was the whole idea of why I wore the mask." 

“I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she's hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down,” Woods explained.

“Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth,” Woods said. “He chipped that [tooth], cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I'm trying to keep this [mask on] so the blood is not all over the place. Luckily, he hit the one I had a root canal on.”

Woods said he was in a lot of pain after the incident.

“The flight home was a joke," Woods said. "I couldn't eat, couldn't drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on. I couldn't have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve, the tooth that was still alive, was cracked.”

When asked if the cameraman felt bad about the incident, Woods said, “He didn’t care.”

Vonn won a super-G competition, breaking a 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a flawless run down the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[13 Pounds of Pot Hidden In Family Van]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:48:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/NC_potinvan0127001.jpg A family in New Mexico found more than 13 pounds of marijuana hidden in the door of their van, apparently tucked away thereby a previous owner.]]> <![CDATA[Michelle Obama Navigates Saudi Limits on Women]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:08:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Michelle-Obama-Saudi-Arabia-2.jpg

For first lady Michelle Obama, just a few hours in Saudi Arabia were enough to illustrate the stark limitations under which Saudi women live.

Joining President Barack Obama for a condolence visit after the death of the King Abdullah, Mrs. Obama stepped off of Air Force One wearing long pants and a long, brightly colored jacket — but no headscarf.

Under the kingdom's strict dress code for women, Saudi females are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public. Most women in Saudi Arabia cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab. But covering one's head is not required for foreigners, and some Western women choose to forego the headscarf while in Saudi Arabia.

As a delegation of dozens of Saudi officials — all men — greeted the Obamas in Riyadh, some shook hands with Mrs. Obama. Others avoided a handshake but acknowledged the first lady with a nod as they passed by.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Furniture Shop a Pot Front: Sheriff]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:37:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/furniture-pot-grow-room.jpg

The owner of a fake Bay Area furniture store was arrested on charges of running an illegal and deceptive operation where none of the chairs and tables were for sale – they were part of a front, authorities said, for growing $2 million worth of pot plants in the back.

Phuc Nguyen, 39, of Gilroy, owner of Gilroy Furniture & More, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing electricity and illegally growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup.

It was not immediately clear if Nguyen were being represented by an attorney.

Nguyen's arrest inside the shop, in the 7500 block of Monterey Road, was the culmination of a monthslong investigation by the sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Team and Gilroy police, authorities said.

His arrest came after a related arrest earlier this month, Stenderup said, when Tuan Dan Nguyen, 50, was allegedly caught with 320 pounds of marijuana plants valued at $700,000 in a warehouse on Tomkins Court. That find led investigators to the faux furniture store.

Gilroy Furniture & More purported to be a furniture store, with an array of couches, tables and chairs flanking the front of the store. The store was decorated with colorful flags and vases of flowers. But Stenderup said none of the furniture was for sale.

“We don't see a lot of storefront operations with a large-scale illegal enterprise going on in the back,” Stenderup said. “I think in the movies and on TV they like to think it happens all the time, but in reality, we just don't see that level of sophistication."

In the back of the shop, officers found more than 1,000 marijuana plants and more than 50 pounds of processed marijuana valued at more than $2 million. Stenderup added that Nguyen had allegedly bypassed the electrical meter to get $80,000 worth of illegally obtained water and light for the plants, which were not up to code, creating a huge fire hazard.

Nguyen is being held on $200,000 bail.

NBC Bay Area's Robert Handa contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Drone's Eye View of the Blizzard]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:44:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-01-27+at+4.35.52+PM.png A drone captures the scene of Monday’s storm hitting New York City.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Harper/@JBH1126]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Attacked Neighbor With Snowblower: Cops]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:06:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Barbara+Davis.jpg

A 61-year-old woman has been arrested after police say she attacked her 60-year-old neighbor with a snowblower during the blizzard Tuesday in Arlington, Massachusetts.

The victim's foot was lacerated when officers arrived around 4:30 p.m., police said. They arrested Barbara Davis, with whom the victim was involved in an ongoing dispute.

Davis is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and mayhem. She is also charged with violating a harassment protection order the victim had previously filed against her.

The victim's injuries were treated, but are considered minor.

Davis was ordered to be held on $35,040 bail. She will be arraigned in Cambridge.

Photo Credit: Arlington Police]]>
<![CDATA[Mr. Incredible Gets Probation in Batgirl Body Slam]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:47:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-23-14_hollywood+blvd+costume+superhero+fight.jpg

A man who dressed as Mr. Incredible, the superhero dad from the hit animated movie, was convicted of battery for beating a woman dressed as Batgirl on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Los Angeles City Attorney said Tuesday.

Muhammet Bilik, 35, was sentenced to three years probation, 20 days of California Department of Transportation work, 36 anger-management sessions, as well as one day in jail for the fight, prosecutors said. He is also banned from the Hollywood Entertainment District.

"Hollywood Blvd. is famous around the globe and attracts millions of visitors every year. We must keep it safe," said City Attorney Mike Feuer in a statement. "The characters who interact with children and family along Hollywood Blvd. have to obey the law."

The beating, caught on a video that went viral, shows Bilik in a red costume and black mask covering his eyes body slamming and punching the woman dressed as Batgirl in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre as costumed Chewbacca and Waldo try to restrain him.

A couple of weeks later, the victim came forward and confirmed the masked man’s identity, prosecutors said.

This conviction is one of seven cases in the past six months involving costumed characters, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Captain America, and Superman, Feuer said.

The rash of cases is leading some to worry about the safety of the characters and tourists.

"For him to do something like that just ruins it for us," said a man dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean." "It makes us look bad."

Added a costumed Spider Man: "There's kids around. There's tourists around, families that are just coming here just to have a good time."

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents Hollywood, has been trying to figure out ways to make sure the characters aren't a danger.

He says one possibility is to ask private businesses such as the Hollywood and Highland complex to hire their own characters.

"That could require background checks and some sort of formal process," he said. "It's what they do in Las Vegas. It's what they do in other locations. I would love to see Hollywood take that type of step forward."

O'Farrell says what the city can do is limited because the characters have a First Amendment right to be on public sidewalks.

Spider Man and Captain Jack hope that any action the city takes makes a distinction between those who make trouble and those who do not.

"It's not everyone," Spider Man said. "It's just certain people."

Four years ago the LAPD conducted a crackdown on Hollywood Boulevard street characters. The sweeps led to a lawsuit which a judge ruled violated their First Amendment rights.

Photo Credit: www.filmon.com]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Officers Foil Robbery]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:28:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dunkin-Donuts-Robbery1.jpg

Two police officers were caught on camera foiling a robbery inside a Philadelphia Dunkin' Donuts.

On Monday, at 10:18 a.m., plain clothes officers Sherman and Austin were patrolling the parking lot of the Dunkin' Donuts on the 6200 block of North Front Street due to recent armed robberies in the area.

While monitoring the store, the officers spotted a man in a white mask, later identified by investigators as 20-year-old Russell Mason-Watts, walk into the Dunkin' Donuts.

Once inside, Watts allegedly took out a black handgun and announced a robbery to the store clerk. The two officers quickly took action, ran into the store, drew their weapons and apprehended Watts before anyone was hurt, investigators said.

The officers recovered Watts’ gun, and arrested him. Watts was charged with robbery and other related offenses.

Investigators determined Watts was also responsible for an armed robbery at the Family Dollar store on the 6200 block of North Front Street back on Jan. 19. Authorities established the suspect used a BB-gun during the robberies, according to police.

Pictured: Russell-Mason Watts

“These officers had to make a split second decision, which could have been fatal but thankfully this turned out without any further incident,” said a Philadelphia Police spokesperson. “Great job Officer Sherman and Officer Austin. Thank you for your service and be safe.”

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Father Charged With Murder, Sex Abuse of Infant]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:50:03 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150123-newhall-baby-found-dead-matthew-warner-ellorah-rose.jpg

A Southern California man was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing and killing his 19-day-old daughter, whose body was found in the cab of a pickup truck, prosecutors said.

Matthew Brendan Warner, 30, showed no emotion during a court hearing where he was charged with one count each of murder, assault on a child causing death, torture, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger and aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Outside court, grandmothers on both sides of the baby's family had differing versions of Warner.

"No! It's not even conceivable. Not him," said Victoria Law-Thomson, Warner's mother.

Nan Allison, Warner's mother-in-law, is furious.

"The idea that a 3-week-old child should have to worry about defending herself against her 30-year-old father is abhorrent to me," she said.

Last Friday, Warner and his wife reported that their infant daughter, Ellorah Rose Warner, had disappeared from their home in Newhall. About 12 hours later, deputies announced they'd arrested him after he led them to her body inside a parked pickup truck.

"He made a choice ... to get high," Allison said.

Allison said Warner was on probation for drug charges, jobless and a danger to his baby. She said she's known it for years.

"He gave the appearance of adoring that child," she said. "It was not genuine."

Law-Thomson thought her son, who used speed, was clean and sober.

"That's why I don't understand this," she said.

Warren's family attended a vigil held in memory of the little girl on Tuesday night, and they again said they do not believe he is guilty. 

"He loved his little girl, adored her, and I don't believe what I'm hearing. It's just rumors," his mother Victoria Law-Thomson said, "I just don't want this viciousness to continue. Just people back off let the courts do what they're supposed to do and not the public opinion."

"He really is a good brother, and we never had any, like, arguments or anything really. We would just have…  good talks," his sister Marjorie Law said, "We were just talking about her, Ellorah, and I was saying how I didn't get a chance to see her yet.... mom’s like, ‘oh we've got to fix that.’  And then the next morning… we heard she's missing."

Meanwhile, a friend of the mother named April Gunckel said she was seeking solace from her family.

"Anybody whose going through such a loss is really going to do the best they can… (to) be with friends and family right now," Gunckel said

Warner's mother holds out hope that the baby may have died as the result of an accident or sudden infant death syndrome.

Results of an autopsy are under seal. After the sexual assault charges were included, Judge David Walgren increased bail to more than $2 million.

His arraignment was set for Feb. 18.

Warner faces a maximum penalty of life in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Michael Larkin and Beverly White contributed to this article

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor Admits to Being Drug Addict]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:53:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dr+Bradley+Schnierow.JPG

A La Jolla doctor admitted he is a drug addict and alcoholic but pledged to complete a court-ordered drug-treatment program.

Dr. Bradley Schnierow pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony count of obtaining narcotics with a false prescription and a misdemeanor count of illegal drug possession.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill dismissed seven other drug-related charges.

Prosecutor David Williams III told NBC 7 Investigates that the case against Schnierow was impacted by Proposition 47, a ballot measure approved by voters last November. The new law reduces many drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. Williams said three of the original charges filed last year against Schnierow as felonies were later reduced to misdemeanors.

But Williams said the false prescription felony requires Schnierow to enroll a rigorous drug treatment program, with serious consequences if he fails.

"If an individual is successful in drug treatment, and I hope Doctor Schnierow is successful in drug treatment, he could eventually get a complete dismissal of the charges,” Williams said.

Schnierow’s attorney, Paul Pfingst, disagreed with Williams assessment of Proposition 47’s impact on this case. Pfingst said the new law did not have an impact on the plea bargain or sentencing.

Judge O’Neill will review the case and Schnierow’s progress in drug treatment at a hearing scheduled for January 29, 2016.

Schnierow's medical license was suspended last June when the Medical Board of California learned of the serious allegations against him, which included using drugs in his office, writing illegal prescriptions for narcotics, and having an inappropriate relationship with a patient. The Drug Enforcement Administration also suspended Schnierow’s license to write prescriptions for controlled substances.

Schnierow told NBC 7 Investigates that he is “an alcoholic and addict in recovery” and that he is “committed to my sobriety.”

Schnierow, who formerly had offices on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus and specialized in hair replacement surgery, said “I hope one day to have the privilege of treating patients” again.

<![CDATA[Man Punches Woman, Abducts Daughter]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:09:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Deare+Marquis+Denny.jpg

A Maryland man is facing a number of charges after police say he abducted his 5-month-old daughter.

Deare Marquis Denny, 26, allegedly drove a rental car to a Poolesville home on Hempstone Avenue, where he punched the baby's mother, and took the baby shortly after 3:15 p.m., Montgomery County Police said.

Police said Denny was holding a handgun at the time.

An Amber Alert was issued just before 7 p.m. Later Tuesday evening, Denny turned himself in at a Prince George's County Police station in Beltsville.

He has been charged with first degree assault, second degree assault, possession of a handgun in a vehicle, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony/crime of violence, reckless endangerment, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, abduction by a relative, and hiding a child within the state.

The baby, Drew Marie Denny, was not hurt. She was reunited with her mother.

"The baby has been recovered safely and that's the outcome we wanted in all this," Montgomery County Police officer Nicole Gamard said.


<![CDATA[No Jail for Cop Who Stole Nude Pics]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:18:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sean-harrington.jpg

A former California Highway Patrol officer who secretly sent himself and his colleagues nude photos of arrested women from their cell phones will spend three years on probation but will be spared jail time.

Sean Harrington, 35, pleaded no contest Tuesday morning to two felony charges of unauthorized access to a computer and copying computer data for secretly sending himself the photos of DUI suspects.

His plea deal means he'll avoid jail time but will receive three years of formal felony probation and a 180-day suspended jail sentence. He must also speak at a community violence solutions class to tell everyone what he did, prosecutor Barry Grove said.

If Harrington had gone to trial, he could have faced up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted on all counts, Grove said.

"You had a person who was in a position of public trust. We as the public gave him a certain amount of power," Grove said. "He violated that  public trust, he abused his power, and now no longer forevermore is allowed to be a police officer. He will be a convicted felon for the rest of his life."

Harrington had been working out a plea agreement with his high-profile defense lawyer Michael Rains for months.

Rains said Tuesday he thinks Harrington received a harsher sentence than anyone who wasn't a law enforcement officer would have, despite potentially facing prison time for the felony charges.

"I think if this would have been a case where it was not a police officer but some other citizen who didn't have a criminal record, it would have been a misdemeanor case," Rains said.

He said because of Harrington's position of authority, prosecutors insisted on felony charges.

Rains said he thinks Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler recognized that Harrington had taken steps to take responsibility for his actions, including swiftly resigning once criminal charges were filed rather than forcing the CHP to take lengthy steps to terminate him.

The judge "wanted him to benefit from education that simply putting him in jail or making him wear an electronic bracelet never would have given him," Rains said. "I think the judge was thoughtful in the sentence she imposed, and I ultimately appreciate it as his lawyer."

The deal on Tuesday is a change from when Harrington pleaded not guilty in November. Since his arrest on Nov. 3, 2014, Harrington has been out on bail, and in November, Rains had told NBC Bay Area that he was working out the plea deal and that the charges didn't "warrant custodial time."

Harrington was charged with stealing nude photos from the  cellphones of two arrested women, but prosecutors said he admitted during interviews to stealing photos from women's phones four to six times during the last few years and fowarding them to colleagues.

The case, first reported by the Contra Costa Times, was blown open in October 2014, after a 23-year-old San Ramon woman said half a dozen nude and semi-nude selfies had been secretly sent from her phone to an unknown number traced to Harrington.

Harrington had forwarded the messages from his phone while the woman was in county jail after a DUI arrest in San Ramon in the early hours of Aug. 29, investigators found, after they obtained search warrants for him.

Further investigation revealed that Harrington had previously stolen private photos from the phone of a 19-year-old DUI suspect arrested in Livermore on Aug. 6 while she was in the hospital and forwarded them to his own.

DUI charges against both women have been dropped.

Neither of the other two CHP officers to whom Harrington had forwarded the photos, Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons, face charges.

Bay City News and NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Missing for 5 Months Found, Rescued in Snowstorm]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 03:56:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/found+whippet.jpg

An FDNY lieutenant found and rescued a puppy that had been missing for five months near the department's training facility on Randall's Island and reunited the pooch with its owner.

The dog, Burt, had been missing from its Manhattan home since Aug. 20. Burt's owner papered hundreds of blocks, including 90 in one night, according to a Facebook page dedicated to finding him, over the months that followed to no avail. Then the owner got a call from Lt. Dave Kelly with the FDNY's training bureau.

"It was so crazy," said owner Lauren Piccolo of Harlem. "I was sitting at home trying to prepare for the storm, and I got a call from someone on Randall's Island, of all places, that he had seen a whippet and he had been seeing this whippet over the period of a couple of weeks."  

According to the department, Kelly noticed the dog rummaging for food at night on the grounds of the training facility. He tried to feed it in hopes he could get near enough to corral the animal, but the whippet -- looks similar to a greyhound -- kept eluding him.

On Monday, as the dangerous snowstorm bore down on the region, Kelly set a trap using food and a dog cage and snagged Burt. He scoured social media for leads and found the Facebook page, then was able to reunite him with his "ecstatic" owner, the FDNY said.

Burt turned 1 in November. Piccolo said the pup has been tired from his long journey, but seems healthy. He was headed to the vet for a checkup Tuesday afternoon. 

<![CDATA[Flores Twins Sentenced]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:22:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Flores-Twins.jpg

Two Chicago twin brothers who provided unprecedented testimony against one of the world’s most dangerous drug cartels were sentenced to 14 years in prison Tuesday.

In announcing his sentence, Judge Ruben Castillo paid special attention to the sheer volume of drug trafficking for which Pedro and Margarito Flores were accused.

"Even though I am not going to sentence you to life, you are leaving here with a life sentence," said Castillo. "Every time you start your car, you have to wonder will that car start or will explode."

The Flores brothers left a life at the top of the drug world to begin secretly cooperating with federal investigators in 2008. Both men made comments in court thanking the government for allowing them to come forward, and they apologized for their criminal actions.

"Because of the timing of their cooperation, which was at the height of their criminal conduct, they were able to work with law enforcement to record actual co-conspirator conversations and put authorities in a position to seize substantial quantities of narcotics in real time as part of the conspiracy," U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon said.

Margarito Flores told the judge Tuesday he was "ashamed."

"I'm embarrassed. I'm regretful," he said.

His brother Pedro said he was there to "take full responsibility for my life, all the drug trafficking."

Prosecutors later Tuesday are expected to announce new charges the ruthless Sinaloa cocaine cartel, led by notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera.

While the two brothers faced possible life sentences, the government asked that they be sentenced to a term of 10 to 16 years, calling them "extraordinary witnesses" who provided "unparalleled assistance" in helping to bring down not only "El Chapo,"  but the leadership of a second cartel and the dismantling of their own Chicago-based cocaine organization.

"The defendants jointly decided to dissolve their criminal enterprise and cooperate with the government," prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing. "Debriefing them took six months of nearly daily sessions."

As a result, 54 defendants were charged in 2009 alone, and prosecutors say some of the cases where the two provided assistance remain so sensitive they still cannot be revealed.

Included in the brothers’ cooperation was the secret recording of more than 70 conversations with cartel members, including two sessions with the elusive “El Chapo” himself. During that time, they enjoyed such favored status with the notorious cartel leader, that they were able to negotiate a reduction in price for their Sinaloa cocaine, from $55,000 to $50,000 per kilo.

Guzman is in custody in Mexico, following his spectacular arrest last year. There are questions whether he will ever be extradited to face charges here in the United States.

Described by the Justice Department as “the most significant drug traffickers in Chicago’s history,” prosecutors said the Flores brothers began their cooperation knowing it put them at grave risk.

“The Flores brothers (and their families) will live the rest of their lives in danger of being killed in retribution,” they wrote. “The barbarism of the cartels is legend, with a special place reserved for those who cooperate.”

As a result, extraordinary security was planned for Tuesday’s sentencing.

Indeed, over the protests of the government, the brothers’ father returned to Mexico in 2009, and within days he was kidnapped and presumed killed.

During their career, the brothers are believed to have been responsible for the importation and distribution of, at minimum, over 70 tons of cocaine, through elaborate transportation schemes which began with planes, boats, and submarines as the drugs left Columbia, entering the United States and making their way to Chicago via a system of stash houses, warehouses, and vehicles with hidden compartments.

“They created massive economies of scale,” prosecutors wrote, noting that here in Chicago the Flores' workers were responsible for the distribution of “ton quantities of cocaine and the laundering of more than $1 billion.”

“The government must consider the extreme danger associated with physically producing the brothers in any venue outside their protected custodial locations,” prosecutors said. As a result, their expected appearance in court Tuesday will mark the first public appearance since their incarceration over six years ago.

<![CDATA[Thieves Swipe Gold Nuggets: Police]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:23:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wells10.JPG

Three people wearing ski masks and armed with at least one gun stole gold nuggets from San Francisco's Wells Fargo History Museum Tuesday morning after they rammed an SUV into the building's entrance.

Police said that at least 10 ounces of gold were stolen, valued at about $10,000.

The robbery took place at about 2:30 a.m. at 420 Montgomery St., where the glass front of the building was left shattered and swarms of police officers were surveying what happened and what was stolen, a police investigator told NBC Bay Area.

A dark Chevy Suburban was towed away just before 7 a.m. Officer Grace Gatpandan said that the three suspects had ditched the SUV, their faces covered, and held the security guard at gunpoint before taking the gold nuggets from a display case.

The trio took off in a second vehicle, described as a four-door sedan. Gatpandan said she does not know if this getaway car was waiting for them with another driver inside or if it was strategically parked somewhere. She said the Chevy was stolen from San Bruno.

Kevin Woodsford, who was on the scene afterwards to replace the glass, has been inside the building before. He noted that the museum has lots of "valuable stuff and antiques you probably can't replace."

"It's pretty crazy," he said. "It's a bold job to pull off."

The museum honors Henry Wells and William Fargo, who founded their financial services company in 1852. The museu's website prominently advertises gold nuggets as one of its featured attractions.

In a statement, Ruben Pulido, a Wells Fargo spokesman said: "We’re disturbed this happened to the Wells Fargo History Museum, but are grateful no team member was harmed. Additionally, the historic stagecoaches on site were not damaged." He vowed the museum would soon reopen.

Police said they have made no arrests but did not there have been several smash-and-grabs recently in the city.

In November, burglars drove a car into the Chanel store off Union Square. Two weeks ago, two men backed a U-Haul van into the Patagonia store near Fisherman’s Wharf.

“It does not appear that these were related,” San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan said.

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>