Prosecutor: Man at compound trained kids for school shooting
TAOS, N.M. — A father arrested at a ramshackle New Mexico compound where 11 children were found living in filth was training youngsters to commit school shootings, prosecutors said in court documents obtained Wednesday.
The allegations against Siraj Ibn Wahhaj came to light as authorities awaited word on whether human remains discovered at the site were those of his missing son, who is severely disabled and went missing in December in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta.
The documents say Wahhaj was conducting weapons training with assault rifles at the compound near the Colorado border that was raided by authorities Friday.
Prosecutor Timothy Hasson filed the court documents while asking that Wahhaj be held without bail after he was arrested last week with four other adults facing child abuse charges.
“He poses a great danger to the children found on the property as well as a threat to the community as a whole due to the presence of firearms and his intent to use these firearms in a violent and illegal manner,” Hasson wrote.
GOP congressman from New York charged with insider trading
NEW YORK — Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins of New York was arrested Wednesday on charges he fed inside information he gleaned from sitting on the board of a biotechnology corporation to his son, helping family and friends dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses when one of the company’s drugs failed in a medical trial.
Collins, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who was among the first sitting members of Congress to endorse his candidacy for the White House, pleaded not guilty to an indictment unsealed at a court in Manhattan. The indictment charges Collins, his son and the father of the son’s fiancee with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.
Speaking to reporters in Buffalo hours after his release on bail, Collins, 68, professed his innocence and said he would remain on the ballot for re-election this fall.
“I believe I acted properly and within the law at all times,” he said. “I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name. I look forward to being fully vindicated and exonerated.”
Prosecutors said the charges stem from Collins’ decision to share with his son insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17 percent of its shares, and sat on its board.
Venezuela ruling party cracks down on opposition lawmakers
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s pro-government constitutional assembly stripped two opposition lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution on Wednesday, accusing them of having roles in a drone attack that authorities say was an attempt to kill socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
The National Constituent Assembly voted unanimously to lift the protection for Julio Borges and Juan Requesens, who have seats in the opposition-controlled legislature. The move came after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Borges, who lives in in exile in Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Requesens was arrested on Tuesday.
Maduro has accused the two of being tied to a weekend incident in which two drones loaded with explosives exploded while he spoke at an outdoor military celebration.
Wednesday’s developments threaten to deepen Venezuela’s political crisis as opposition lawmakers accuse the government’s ruling party of using the alleged attack to clamp down on the opposition.
Constituent Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello said Borges and Requesens were just the first lawmakers to be accused in the investigation of the incident.
Republicans promote fear, not tax cuts, in key elections
WASHINGTON — There’s a border crisis in Pennsylvania. The radical left is surging in New Jersey. And Nancy Pelosi is a threat to New York.
Republican candidates in the nation’s premiere midterm battlegrounds have embraced a central message in their fight to maintain the House majority this fall — and it has little to do with the surging economy or the sweeping tax cuts that the GOP celebrated as a once-in-a-generation achievement just eight months ago.
Instead, as Republicans enter the final month of the primary season, they’re looking ahead to a general-election strategy of embracing anxiety as a tool to motivate voters. That was clear this week as the GOP’s closing message in an Ohio special election questioned Democrat Danny O’Connor’s connection to Pelosi, the House Democratic leader and preferred super villain for Republicans.
“We wish it got the pitch forks out and it doesn’t,” GOP ad maker Will Ritter said of the Republican tax cuts.
Some Republican strategists are frustrated the party isn’t focused on the tax law or the broader health of the economy in the run-up to Election Day. Others concede that in the Trump era, there’s no better motivator than fear of the other side, particularly the prospect of Pelosi returning to the speaker’s chair.
Deputies: Arrest made in lemonade stand stickup
MONROE, N.C. — North Carolina authorities arrested a juvenile Wednesday they say robbed a 9-year-old lemonade vendor of $17 at gunpoint, a stickup that prompted an outpouring of sympathy and donations for the young entrepreneur.
Tony Underwood, a spokesman for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, said detectives had obtained security camera footage of a person who matched the suspect’s description in an area near where the holdup occurred. Underwood said a juvenile, identified as a male in the agency’s news release, was arrested without incident.
The suspect’s identity was being withheld under North Carolina law. Detectives working with the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice obtained petitions charging the juvenile with robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia, authorities said.
A judge issued a secure custody order for the suspect. Underwood said the order means the suspect will be confined until his next custody hearing in juvenile court.
The young vendor, whose first name is Mark, told sheriff’s deputies he was held up at gunpoint Saturday while selling lemonade at a traffic circle not far from the entrance to his community in Monroe, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Charlotte. Investigators subsequently said they were seeking a male suspect.