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Bodyguards for troubled rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine turned New York City into the Wild West last summer, piling into SUVs and chasing a man for 20 blocks with lights flashing after he attempted to record cellphone video of the recording star, prosecutors said Monday.Five members of 6ix9ine’s security team, including a retired New York City police detective accused of lying and attempting to cover up the incident, were indicted Monday on robbery, false impersonation and other charges stemming from the pursuit last August in Harlem.Tekashi 6ix9ine, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, was not charged.“A celebrity entourage is not a police department, and Manhattan is not the Wild West,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a written statement announcing the indictments.“As alleged, these highly-compensated vigilantes caravanned through the streets of Harlem with sirens flashing in order to track a man down and steal and break his phone,” Vance said.The former NYPD detective, Daniel Laperuta, falsely claimed to police officers and a 911 dispatcher that the man being chased had threatened 6ix9ine’s team with a gun, Vance said.When 6ix9ine’s bodyguards finally confronted the man, boxing him in with their SUVs near the Apollo Theater, they knocked his cell phone out and stomped it, Vance said.As the man wrestled with one of the bodyguards in an attempt to get the phone back, Laperuta approached with his hand on his holstered gun and another bodyguard pointed a stun gun at the man, Vance said.The security team fled in the SUVs as an unmarked police car drove up with lights flashing, Vance said.Laperuta pleaded not guilty Monday and was expected to post bail Monday afternoon. Other members of the security team were expected to be arraigned later Monday.Laperuta’s lawyer, Todd Cushner, said he was reviewing the charges against the former detective.“For the most part, they’re unfounded,” Cushner said.Online court records didn’t list lawyers for the other members of Tekashi 6ix9ine’s security team who were charged. Messages seeking comment were left with lawyers who’ve represented the rapper in the past.6ix9ine, a Brooklyn native, rocketed to fame as a hip-hop artist after becoming a social media phenomenon with millions of followers on Instagram. He had a multiplatinum hit song, “Fefe,” with Nicki Minaj, which peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts in 2018, and “Stoopid,” featuring the incarcerated rapper Bobby Shmurda.Since then, he’s been in and out of court — and prison.Facing a mandatory minimum of 37 years in prison for gang crimes including allegedly orchestrating a shooting that left an innocent bystander wounded, 6ix9ine started cooperating with federal prosecutors and testifying against members of the gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.He also testified that two men kidnapped him in July 2018, forcing him into a stolen car at gunpoint and stopping at times to beat and taunt him before taking him to his Brooklyn home and stealing a bag full of jewelry.6ix9ine’s cooperation earned him leniency from prosecutors and scorn from fellow rappers, with Snoop Dogg calling him a “snitch.” In December 2019, 6ix9ine was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Just a few months later, a judge ordered him released to home confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Testifying in 2019, Tekashi 6ix9ine explained to jurors that his role in the Nine Trey gang was to “just keep making hits and be the financial support … so they could buy guns and stuff like that.”Asked what he got in return, 6ix9ine responded: “My career. I got the street credibility. The videos, the music, the protection — all of the above.”——Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak
Donald Trump’s company and his longtime finance chief are expected to be charged Thursday with tax-related crimes stemming from a New York investigation into the former president’s business dealings, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.The charges against the Trump Organization and the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, appear to involve non-monetary benefits the company gave to top executives, possibly including use of apartments, cars and school tuition.The people were not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that charges were expected Thursday.The charges against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization would be first criminal cases to arise from the two-year probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat who leaves office at the end of the year.Prosecutors have been scrutinizing Trump’s tax records, subpoenaing documents and interviewing witnesses, including Trump insiders and company executives.A grand jury was recently empaneled to weigh evidence and New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was assigning two of her lawyers to work with Vance on the criminal probe while she continues a civil investigation of Trump.Messages seeking comment were left with a spokesperson and lawyers for the Trump Organization. Weisselberg’s lawyer, Mary Mulligan, declined to comment. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.Trump’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Jason Miller, a longtime former senior adviser to the Republican, spun the looming charges as “politically terrible for the Democrats.”“They told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump. Instead, their Witch Hunt is persecuting an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!” Miller tweeted, apparently referring to Weisselberg, who is 73.Trump, who’s been critical of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, was in Texas visiting the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday. He did not respond to shouted questions about the charges as he participated in a briefing with state officials.Trump had blasted the investigation in a statement Monday, deriding Vance’s office as “rude, nasty, and totally biased” in their treatment of Trump company lawyers, representatives, and long-term employees.Trump, in the statement, said the company’s actions were “things that are standard practice throughout the U.S. business community, and in no way a crime” and that Vance’s probe was an investigation was “in search of a crime.”Trump Organization lawyers met virtually with Manhattan prosecutors last week in a last-ditch attempt to dissuade them from charging the company. Prosecutors gave the lawyers a Monday deadline to make the case that criminal charges shouldn’t be filed.Ron Fischetti, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the AP this week that there was no indication Trump himself was included in the first batch of charges.“There is no indictment coming down this week against the former president,” Fischetti said. “I can’t say he’s out of the woods yet completely.”Weisselberg, a loyal lieutenant to Trump and his real estate-developer father, Fred, came under scrutiny, in part, because of questions about his son’s use of a Trump apartment at little or no cost.Barry Weisselberg managed a Trump-operated ice rink in Central Park.Barry’s ex-wife, Jen Weisselberg, has been cooperating with the investigation and turned over reams of tax records and other documents to investigators.“We have been working with prosecutors for many months now as part of this tax and financial investigation and have provided a large volume of evidence that allowed them to bring these charges,” Jen Weisselberg’s lawyer, Duncan Levin, said Wednesday. “We are gratified to hear that the DA’s office is moving forward with a criminal case.”Allen Weisselberg has worked for the Trump Organization since 1973. The case against him could give prosecutors the means to pressure the executive into cooperating and telling them what he knows about Trump’s business dealings.Prosecutors subpoenaed another long-time Trump finance executive, senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney, to testify in front of the grand jury in the spring. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses are granted immunity and can not be charged for conduct they testify about.Prosecutors probing untaxed benefits to Trump executives have also been looking at Matthew Calamari, a former Trump bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and his son, the company’s corporate director of security. However, a lawyer for the Calamaris said Wednesday that he didn’t expect them to be charged.“Although the DA’s investigation obviously is ongoing, I do not expect charges to be filed against either of my clients at this time,” said the lawyer, Nicholas Gravante.———Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Weslaco, Texas, and Bernard Condon in New York contributed to this report.———On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak
A judge has struck down a New York City law that had prohibited the city’s police officers from putting pressure on a person’s torso while making an arrest, calling the measure “unconstitutionally vague.”By MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated PressJune 22, 2021, 10:54 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — A judge Tuesday struck down a New York City law that had prohibited the city’s police officers from putting pressure on a person’s torso while making an arrest, calling the measure “unconstitutionally vague.”Manhattan Judge Laurence Love wrote in a 17-page opinion that phrasing in the law, passed in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, was hard to define and ripe for confusion.Love’s ruling came in a lawsuit brought by police unions opposed to the law, which they referred to as the “diaphragm law” because it barred officers from restraining people “in a manner that compresses the diaphragm.”Love, in his opinion, said that such phrasing “cannot be adequately defined as written.” He rejected the city’s proposal to simply remove those words from the law, saying he would not usurp the role of city lawmakers.Lawyers for the unions argued that deleting the line would’ve made the law even more vague, leaving officers susceptible to criminal charges for sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect’s chest or back regardless of how much pressure they applied, for how long, and whether that affected the person’s breathing.Instead, the judge urged the city council to revisit the law and address the language issue. A bill proposed last year to revise the law amid outcry from police unions appears to have stalled. The New York City law was one of many police reforms enacted across the U.S. in the wake of Floyd’s death, which occurred as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for about 9 1/2 minutes.New York City’s law department, which defended the struck down law in court, said it is “reviewing its legal options.” The law had also outlawed the use of chokeholds by police officers. Love’s ruling has no bearing on a long-standing NYPD ban on the tactic. Chokeholds are also illegal under state law.Messages seeking comment were left with the police department and with the police unions that sued over the law.In the past, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch has described the “diaphragm law” as legislative overreach that went against all training.Love, in his ruling, noted that the NYPD has established new training procedures and blanket restrictions on sitting, kneeling or standing on a person’s chest or back, but that the department’s training materials had also failed to meaningfully address the legal definition of “compresses the diaphragm.”———Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips
A New York judge on Tuesday approved disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s extradition to California, where he faces additional sexual assault charges, ending a legal fight prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the defense’s concerns about Weinstein’s failing health and a squabble over paperwork.Judge Kenneth Case said there was no reason to delay Weinstein’s transfer any longer, denying his lawyer’s request to keep him at a state prison near Buffalo — where he is serving a 23-year sentence for a rape conviction last year — until the start of jury selection in the Los Angeles case.Los Angeles authorities plan to collect Weinstein, 69, from the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, at the end of June or in early July, prosecutors said at Tuesday’s extradition hearing in Buffalo, giving Weinstein’s lawyer time to appeal Judge Case’s decision.Weinstein’s lawyer, Norman Effman, argued he should remain in Wende’s hospital-like maximum-security setting while receiving treatment for maladies including a loss of eyesight, rather than being shipped cross-country to a Los Angeles jail cell. His suggestion that Weinstein instead be arraigned by video was also rejected.“What we were trying to do is not avoid the trial, but avoid an unnecessary stay in a jail rather than a prison,” Effman said, claiming pre-trial detention in California would rob Weinstein of needed medical care.Erie County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable, arguing in favor of Weinstein’s extradition, retorted: “It’s Los Angeles. It’s not some remote outpost that doesn’t have any sort of medical care.”Weinstein faces 11 sexual assault counts in California involving five women, stemming from alleged assaults in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013. The charges include rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force.Los Angeles prosecutors first charged Weinstein in January 2020, just as jury selection was getting underway in the New York City case that ended in his conviction and imprisonment.Weinstein is appealing the verdict that he raped an aspiring actress in 2013 in a Manhattan hotel room and forcibly performed oral sex on TV and film production assistant in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment.Because Weinstein is incarcerated in New York, Case’s authorization was needed in order to transfer him to the custody of Los Angeles authorities under the terms of an interstate extradition agreement.One other way Weinstein’s move could have been blocked was by an objection from New York’s governor, but Gable said there was no such action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.Weinstein, appearing via video from the Wende prison, placed his hands on his mask-covered face after Case announced his decision. Earlier in the hearing, Weinstein had the mask drooping from his right ear as he sat in what appeared to be a prison meeting room.In addition to concerns about Weinstein’s health, Effman questioned the legitimacy of extradition paperwork filed by Los Angeles authorities, which he said was defective because it listed only some of the charges.“We are challenging the paperwork because it’s not right. It’s wrong… They just copied the form and changed the date,” Effman told Case.Gable said the paperwork “absolutely met the requirements” of the extradition agreement.Gable also challenged Effman’s claims about Weinstein’s health, telling the judge Weinstein last week rejected a prescribed treatment for his eye condition because he said he “wasn’t psychologically ready for it” and that prison officials cycled through ophthalmologists trying to find one “acceptable to the defendant.”Weinstein has myriad health problems and his condition has worsened since he’s been in prisons, according to his lawyers, including a bout with COVID-19 two weeks after his sentencing in March 2020.Weinstein has diabetes, extensive coronary artery disease, anemia, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic lower back pain, sciatica , chronic leg pain and arthritis that severe limits his ability to walk, and eye ailments that have severely degraded his vision, his lawyers said.“Every inmate has an absolute right to appropriate treatment when he or she is in custody,” Gable said. “But they don’t have a say in when and where they get their treatment, and there’s absolutely nothing in either doctor’s report that says this treatment can’t be done in Los Angeles.”———Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak.