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In SDNY Financial Aid Fraud Defendant Gets Non Incarceratory Sentence Amid Cries of God Is Real

By Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 29 - "My God is real," a woman cried out after Judge Alison J. Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced a Teachers College financial aid bribery defendant to a non incarceratory sentence, combined with a restitution order of over $700,000. Annice Kpana received financial aid from Columbia University's Teachers College from 2008 to 2017, including during times she was enrolled in no classes. She kicked back half of the fraudulent aid.

But she cooperated with the government and received a so called 5K letter which will go on the docket shortly. Judge Nathan deemed her more culpable than a Ms. Canty who was sentenced to three months imprisonment, after taking $166,000. But Ms Kpana cooperated, and the government did its part with the 5K letter. Many of Ms Kpana's church members were in the courtroom on April 29 - almost so many they would have move to it to Courtroom 110 of 40 Foley Square, her lawyer said.

There were audible sighs of relief when Judge Nathan, after the script about Booker and its progeny, said no incarceration. One attendee said, you don't see many happy people in this courthouse. Take it while you can.  That's what she said.

  By constrast on April 9 a co-defendant was sentenced to 42 months in jail, before a nearly empty courtroom. Afterward the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that "MELANIE WILLIAMS-BETHEA, the former director of financial aid at Teachers College, Columbia University, and two former Teachers College students, MAWULI HORMEKU and CARMEN CANTY, were sentenced to prison terms for their respective roles in illicitly obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars from Teachers College through a years-long bribery and kickback scheme." During the proceeding, Judge Nathan pointedly asked the Assistant U.S. Attorney why his office had not sought the ringleader sentencing enhancement for Ms. Williams-Bethea, and never really got an answer. The defense lawyer said she was more of an equal with the students she took half of the fraudulent stipends from, and that she is now seeking a graduate degree. Paid for how? The defense lawyer said, Tomorrow I have a client who shot someone three times in the leg but it pleading to much less. Which client is that? The questions just continues, and Inner City Press will continue asking them.

Elon Musk appeared in Federal court on Thursday, to oppose an SEC motion that he be held in contempt for his tweets including about 500,000 Tesla cars in 2019. After nearly two hours of argument the SEC and Musk's lawyers were directed to negotiate for at least one hour in the next two weeks and try to reach a settlement.  Judge Nathan admonished the SEC for not having negotiated enough before "running into court and saying the sky was falling," as Musk's lawyer put it. Another member of Musk's team, whom Inner City Press in the courtroom dubbed Mister Slick, moved to sit between Musk and the podium and passed a note. Afterward Musk jumped into a Tesla with no front place waiting in Foley Square and sped away. Inner City Press recorded a Periscope video (here) and headed back into the courthouse.  Watch this site. As a class action lawsuit against BHH's rodent repellers creeps toward trial or settlement, on April 1in the the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley heard arguments and ruled on no fewer than 14 motions in limine. There were nine from the class action plaintiffs, mostly successful, and five from the defendant, most unsuccessful.

During the three hours of argument, Judge Pauley said today is not the day to admit anonymous customer reviews from from the likes of "TaterSpud59" (whom he referred to as Tater Tot), and said that FTC press releases dubious about repellers will or would be admissible at trial, with a possible limiting instruction.

There was discussion of experts including a Michigan State University protocol which Judge Pauley shot down, adding that after MSU's victory over Duke, he is not disposed toward them. Judge Pauley took more time listening to arguments than many other judges would, and said he said spent the rainy Sunday - on which Duke was eliminated from NCAA March Madness - to read all of the papers. The sense, after the mouse motion marathon, was that the plaintiffs are in the driver's seat, and that the case may settle. There is a mediation scheduled for April 9 before Hon. John S. Martin (Ret). But Inner City Press will be cover it and what happens in the SDNY either way. The case is Hart, et al. v. BHH, LLC d/b/a Bell + Howell, et al., 15-cv-04804; class counsel is Yitzchak Kopel  and BHH is now represented by Quinn Emanuel We were also at Judge Pauley's courtroom on the news there would be a proceeding in US v Genovese, a hedge fund fraud prosecution. But it was not there - once we left the courtroom and retrieved electronics, we were able to ask and learned Genovese was adjourned to April 10. We'll have more on this.  Back on February 15 when Gustavo Salvador pled guilty to selling oxycodon in The Bronx before SDNY Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, his two lawyers tried to argue for a suspended remand based on the cold in the MDC Brooklyn. Judge Engelmayer turned them down saying he had personal knowledge that the heat was back on; not surprising. Surprising, though, was that a Bronx oxy dealer was represented by the white shoe Goodwin Proctor law firm. Was it pro bono? Their representation goes back at least until Thanksgiving, before the MDC Brooklyn conditions became public. In the audience, a young child then a baby cried. The volume of oxy pills was in the thousands, according to the indictment. The sentencing guidelines run from 57 to 71 months. Judge Engelmayer said he said something else on his schedule coming up, should the sentencing be rescheduled? It went forward. Goodwin Proctor. Later on February 15: on East 104th Street in Manhattan last April 24, multiple gunshots to the chest killed 17-year old Samuel Ozuna. A week later, 24-year old Gary Turner was arrested and charged. When Turner on February 15 changed his plea to guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Azuna's family members sat on one side of the courtroom. On the other, separted by security officers, were supporters of Turner. In the back, the only media in the room, was Inner City Press.


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