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United States incarcerated in Spain was involuntary drug mule, says United States



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Victor Stemberger was unwilling to ignore emails inviting him to a multi-million dollar business opportunity, so he presented himself as perfect for the job. In a way it was, but for all the wrong reasons.

The 76-year-old Virginia man, whose family says he has cognitive problems, accepted the offer and boasted of his credentials as “an experienced businessman who does what he says he will do and runs smoothly, according to the plan”.

Apparently he followed the plan, but the execution was not perfect.

Today Stemberger sits in a Spanish jail, a year after flying into the country with 2.4 kilograms (more than 5 pounds) of cocaine expertly sewn in bubble jackets in a bag. His family says he knew nothing about drugs. Although the Spanish authorities are doubtful, the US Department of Justice. USA He has warned Spain that he believes Stemberger was tricked into acting as a drug mule for a West African criminal network and has asked the country for evidence that has been gathered, according to correspondence obtained by The Associated Press.

Federal officials have warned for years about scams that appeal to older Americans or those with diminished mental capacity (Stemberger had a significant brain injury nearly 15 years ago) to become drug couriers. Scams convince them that they will receive payments if they travel or take any other requested action. The Department of Homeland Security in 2016 said immigration and border authorities had intercepted more than 140 involuntary emails, some as young as 87, and that more than 30 are believed to still be incarcerated.

“One of the common characteristics we find in these scams is that the older person often lives alone, has lost a spouse, and is alone,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who chairs the Senate Committee on Aging and He helped secure the release of a Maine man imprisoned in Spain in circumstances similar to those of Stemberger.

Stemberger, who celebrates his first anniversary in Spanish detention on July 5, faces trial next month in Madrid. Her son says the only explanation for his father’s actions is that “these perpetrators really connected with our father under the veil of what he thought was a legitimate business opportunity.”

“With his diminished state of mind, he became the perfect victim of a criminal union like this,” said Vic Stemberger.

A spokesman for the Madrid judiciary, who agreed to discuss the case only on condition of anonymity, said Stemberger told authorities that he had planned to hand the jackets over to United Nations officials in Asia and did not know they contained drugs. Authorities did not consider the narrative plausible and sought to have him jailed before trial instead of allowing him to return to the United States, the spokesman said.

Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence for Stemberger, whose Spanish lawyer Juan Ospina said he plans to argue that there was no way Stemberger could have noticed the extra weight of the drugs because they were intelligently distributed among the jackets.

“It is a shame that mules are always stolen, the lowest on the scale of a criminal organization.” They are the easiest and weakest target, but there is rarely a thorough and rigorous police investigation that points to original sin, ”said Ospina.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating whether their contacts were part of a network of West African money launderers, scam artists, and drug traffickers under scrutiny for plotting the elderly and weak, according to a document from the Justice Department sent to Spain last October seeking permission to interview Stemberger and copies of investigative documents.

The case began in March 2018 with an email from someone purporting to be a financial consultant to the Nigerian Foreign Ministry, inviting Stemberger, from Centerville, Virginia, to a business opportunity that involved the possibility of a lucrative payment. The job consisted of traveling abroad to deliver gifts and documents to officials, with the aim of recovering misallocated funds.

A wave of emails and phone calls continued for the next year and a half. Stemberger withheld details of his family. He even traveled to Argentina and Hong Kong when his wife thought he was in Chicago.

“I certainly knew that talking to these people internationally could be something our family would question,” said Vic Stemberger. “We simply never had the opportunity to intervene.”

Emails reviewed by AP show that Stemberger sometimes sought assurances that the project was legitimate, but also presented himself as a game to himself, saying that he could travel as long as his expenses were covered “and we have a plan clear in progress before leaving. “

A Justice Department lawyer told Spanish authorities that the emails show Stemberger concerned about being scammed, suffering from uncomfortable travel conditions and having to pay for the trip. But, attorney Jason Carter wrote, “There are no communications reflecting that Stemberger believed or suspected that it would assist in the trafficking of controlled substances.”

Retired DEA agent Robert Zachariasiewicz, whose investigative firm has worked with the family on the case, said the 161 pages of emails he has reviewed make it clear that “he is completely unconscious.”

“It was very difficult to read, honestly, because it tells a sad story in itself,” he added.

A Vietnam veteran with two master’s degrees, Stemberger specialized in corporate executive coaching and prided himself on being a smart businessman, his son said. But it hasn’t been the same since a brain aneurysm in 2006 that left him impaired in judgment and critical thinking.

Last July, he traveled to Brazil on a trip that would take him to Spain and Asia. His contacts told him that officials would visit his hotel room in Sao Paulo to help transfer the gifts to the luggage.

Stemberger assured his son by email that the job was legitimate: “The gifts mentioned in the message are standard protocol for dealing with government officials in this part of the world. Without contraband, make sure of that.

He was arrested the next day after arriving in Madrid.

As his family works to prove his innocence, even Stemberger, who spent his 50th wedding anniversary in jail, came up with the idea that he was cheated, his son said.

Young Stemberger said he understands how extraordinary the saga can sound, joking that if every drug dealer used his father’s defense, no one would be in jail.

But, he said, his father was undoubtedly cheated.

“There was never any attempt to commit a crime,” he said.


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Former teacher Kim Connor jailed for “exploitative” relationship with student



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A former drama school teacher in England was sentenced to nine months in prison for forcing one of her students to have an “exploitative” sexual relationship, during which the girl performed alongside her at a Rod Stewart concert, according to the reports.

Kim Connor, a 46-year-old mother of two, began teaching the victim, now 31, at a performing arts school when she was just 9. About six years later, the couple attended West End shows, eating in restaurants and restaurants. even on vacation together, reports The Bury Times.

Connor, who was suspended as director of performing arts at RC High School of St. Monica in Prestwich when the allegations came up, had “taken the best years” of the victim’s life and left her struggling with mental problems, she said in the cut.

Prosecutor Darren Preston said the couple began to be loving by hugging and kissing when the girl was only 14 years old. A year later, Connor and the girl became “more sexual” and the student would stay at the teacher’s house when she was 16 years old. The newspaper reports.

Salford’s Connor gained the trust of the girl’s parents and told her to say she was 21 if someone asked her age in public, the Manchester Evening News reports.

“She knew very well that what she was doing was wrong,” Preston said in March of Connor, who said the sexual relationship began when the girl was 18 years old.

The victim, who said she still suffers from depression due to the illicit relationship that ended when she was 20, reportedly decided to expose the abuse in response to the #MeToo movement.

“What Kim Connor did affected me for years,” the victim told a judge in March. “She told me to keep the relationship a secret, not through emotion, but because it was wrong.”

Manchester Crown Court
Manchester Crown CourtDave Thompson / PA Images via Getty Images

Connor also bought tickets for the West End shows and invited her to sing onstage with her in a choir at a Rod Stewart concert in Manchester, reports The Sun.

Connor, who was sentenced Tuesday, will also have to register as a sex offender, The Bury Times reports.

“This was an abusive relationship and young people in situations like this can be harmed in many ways,” Judg John Edwards told Connor. “You should have taken steps to distance yourself from your victim rather than encourage her.”


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Trump says raising the Confederate flag is a problem of “freedom of expression”



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President Trump said the decision to fly the Confederate flag comes down to “freedom of expression,” after criticizing NASCAR for banning the flag at its career events.

“My position is very simple: it is freedom of expression,” Trump said in an interview with the Nexstar broadcast Tuesday at the White House.

“You do what you do. It’s freedom of speech, “the president said.” NASCAR can do whatever it wants, and they’ve chosen to go a certain way, other people choose a different route. “

Trump said his Monday tweet about NASCAR should not be critical.

“I was talking about the fact that NASCAR chose to go a certain way and that will be up to them.” That depends on them, “he said.

In the post, Trump also suggested that Bubba Wallace apologize after assuming that a “knot” found at his garage stall last month was a hate crime, and the FBI determined that it was a garage tug that had been there since October 2019..

“@BubbaWallace apologized to all those great NASCAR drivers and officers who came to his aid, stood by him and were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to discover that it was all just another HOAX?” said. “That Flag decision has caused the lowest ratings EVER!”

The rope was found at Talladega Speedway by a member of Richard Petty Motorsports who alerted Wallace’s crew.

The FBI, after an investigation, said the video showed that the rope had been hanging on the post since at least October.

Protests after George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis have focused on reforming law enforcement agencies, but have also included overthrowing statues of historical figures, as well as calls for renamed bases US military with the names of Confederate soldiers.

NASCAR announced last month that it would ban the flag at its events and properties after Wallace urged the organization to remove the flags because “no one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race.”


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Kanye West stops supporting Trump in interview on 2020 presidential race



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Rapper Kanye West no longer supports President Trump, he announced Tuesday in an extensive interview.

Speaking to Forbes magazine, the billionaire sneaker tycoon, who announced his 2020 bid on Sunday, said he was “taking off his red hat, with this interview.”

West, who admitted in the interview that he had never voted before, did not provide specific reasons for his decision to stop supporting the president.

Instead, he said he had lost confidence in Trump and said, “It looks like a huge disaster to me.” I don’t like that he caught wind that he hid in the bunker. “

If President Trump was not yet the Republican candidate, West told the magazine that he would run as a Republican, adding that “I will run as an independent if Trump is there.”

President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West are together in the lobby of the Trump Tower.
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He said his third will be called “the birthday party” and added: “Because when we win, it’s everyone’s birthday.”

He noted that his two main advisers are his first supporters, Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk.

West went on to explain his original support for the president, saying that “Trump is the closest president we have had in years to allow God to remain part of the conversation.”

When asked about the Democratic party, West did not throw punches.

“That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all black people need to be a Democrat and to assume that I am running is that I am dividing the vote.” Democrats are uploading all of that information to social media platforms. And the Democrats used to tell me, the Democrats themselves have threatened me … The reason this is the first day I registered to vote is because I was scared. They told me that if I voted for Trump, my music career would end. They threatened to be at a party.

“I was threatened as a black man in the Democratic Party. And that’s what Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people. Threatening them to the point where this white man can tell a black man that if you don’t vote for me, you’re not black, “he said.

West has not taken any concrete steps to run to run for president, including declaring his candidacy.

In October 2018, he delivered an F-bomb and a cursing-filled tirade during a meeting in the Oval Office, after which President Trump said the rapper with the MAGA hat could one day fill his shoes as commander-in-chief.


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