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Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher receives 25-year sentence – Los Angeles Wave: West Edition

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 11:01 am

A former South Los Angeles-area elementary school teacher who took photos of blindfolded and gagged students with semen-tainted cookies or spoons held to their mouths pleaded no contest Friday to 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.

Ex-Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Henry Berndt, 62, of Torrance, committed the abuse between 2005 and 2011. The charges involved 23 children who were 7 to 10 years old.

As part of his plea agreement, Berndt will also be required to register as a sex offender for life. He was given credit for 755 days he has already served in jail since his arrest in January 2012.

During the court hearing, defense attorney Manny Medrano said his client was remorseful for his actions.

“He taught for over 30 years, your honor,” Medrano said during the court hearing in downtown Los Angeles. “He was a dedicated educator. He was well-respected by his teaching peers at that school. He was loved by many of [his] students and the parents of those kids, your honor. And indeed, since his date of arrest … he’s received a multitude of letters, supportive letters, from former students and the parents of those kids.”

Medrano also insisted that Berndt never touched children in a sexual manner.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said a key result of the plea deal was preventing the young victims from being forced to testify in court.

“A school ought to be one of the safest places in America,” Lacey said. “This plea spares these young victims the anguish of testifying at a trial and sends an unmistakable message to those who would dare take advantage of our children that justice will prevail.”

One parent said during the hearing that Berndt should be burned at the stake, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli said the 25-year sentence could amount to life behind bars.

“Berndt did ask for less time than what the D.A. offered. The court was not inclined to go along with that,” Lomeli said. “Understand that he is of a certain age, and the time that’s going to be imposed by this court, 25 years, could potentially — coupled with his age — amount to a life sentence in this matter.

“I know that you mentioned … you would like to see him burned at the stake. Obviously I don’t have the power to do that, nor would I do that at this point, but understand he’s getting 25 years, not what he was asking for,” the judge said.

The 2012 arrests of Berndt and another former Miramonte teacher, Martin Springer, led to a community outcry and an overhaul of the management of the school. Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy replaced the school’s entire staff, although most eventually returned to work at the campus.

A series of lawsuits and claims were filed by alleged victims against the LAUSD, which so far has paid out nearly $30 million in settlements. Dozens more claims are pending.

Springer is still awaiting trial on three counts of committing lewd acts on a child.

Berndt was arrested following a roughly yearlong investigation. School district officials said Berndt was removed from the classroom when the allegations against him first arose in January 2011 and the district moved to fire him, but he resigned before he could be terminated.

Sheriff’s officials said the investigation of Berndt began when a film processor turned over more than 40 photographs of children in a classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered in tape. Some of the pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

A sheriff’s sergeant said some of the photographs “depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance.” Some photos also showed children with a large roach on their faces, sheriff’s officials said.

Sheriff’s officials noted that detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in the trash in Berndt’s classroom. Both items tested positive for semen, and DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies also served a search warrant on Berndt’s home and found more than 100 other similar photographs depicting children, sheriff’s officials said. Detectives also found about 250 other photos at the film-processing business, sheriff’s officials said.

Former Miramonte Elementary School teacher receives 25-year sentence – Los Angeles Wave: West Edition.

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A Couple Of Savages Charged With Sex Assault Of Young Girls | Cynical Afrikan

*Hat Tip: Doc Aziz

filthy couple of pedophiles

A filthy “white” savage from Texas was arrested Friday after he was accused of raping at least 15 children.

According to reports, Tad Costin, 42, is accused of sexually terrorizing female children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old, investigators said.

During a search of the pedophile’s Pearland home, investigators found six hard drives and 80 CDs and DVDs, all containing child pornography. Investigators believe all of the graphic images found so far were taken inside the suspect’s former residence near Clear Lake.

The sexual terrorist was living with his girlfriend and her 5-year-old son at the time of his arrest. Cops say his girlfriend’s parents found a computer memory card in their home which contained images of Costin raping children.

The photos show multiple children dressed in Disney nightgowns, asleep or possibly drugged while Costin engages them in perverted sexual acts.

“They’re disturbing,” Kathryn Kahle with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said. “The images are clearly of the defendant engaging in sexual conduct with these young girls, various girls. We still believe we have around 15 unidentified victims at this time.”

Investigators with Liberty County and Harris County’s Crimes Against Children Task Force said the case began when the parents of Costin’s girlfriend turned over the images to law enforcement on Oct. 20.

Investigators say the photos may date back as far as 1990.

“We are trying to determine who these girls are, there are no children that we know of  this defendant, they are not relatives,” Kahle said.

Andrew Barker, who rents Costin’s old home where the whitemarish activities took place, said he was “shaking” at the news.

“It’s scary as shit to be honest, that someone that can be a friend like that can go off and do such disgusting things,” Barker said.

On the pedophile’s personal website, he mentioned having two children that he is estranged from.

“Unfortunately paths in our lives have separated me from them and I have not been able to be a big part of their lives,” the nasty pedophile wrote.

He also lamented not being married.

“Takes a thoughtful person to get through my shell and learn who I am,” he wrote.

Costin’s girlfriend, Julia Lack — a former Playboy playmate — is being called a person of interest in the case, according to investigators. Investigators are also looking into who is behind the camera in the photos taken.

“Some of them might have been taken by the defendant himself with timers and or computer equipment, but we are also looking into who might be filming and taking those pictures as well,” Kahle said.

More possible victims have come forward since the arrest, prosecutors said.

A woman who wished to remains anonymous spoke about her time dating Costin the pedophile in 2010, when he sexually terrorized her child.

The woman, who goes by the name Jane, was hired by Costin to clean his apartment and often encouraged her to bring her 5-year-old daughter over, she said.

“He always referred to her as ‘his little girl,’” Jane said.

On her fifth visit to the pedophile’s house, Jane was cleaning downstairs and something made her go upstairs. That’s when she saw him on top of her daughter.

“He was thrusting on my daughter and had her legs open,” she said.

Jane called the cops after grabbing her daughter and running from the home. The child rapist was charged with indecency with a child. That charge was eventually dropped, however, due to a lack of evidence.

Her daughter, now 9, is in therapy and never told her mother exactly what happened that day. Jane said her daughter recognized Costin from recent news reports.

“She slumped down on the couch,” Jane said. “She acted really scared.”

The  pedophile currently faces four charges of sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors said additional charges are possible.

“I think they should give him the death penalty,” Jane said.

 

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LA: Sorrento police chief apologizes for racial slur

 

The Sorrento Police Department has been at the center of several investigations that have come before the town council. A long list of allegations of wrong-doing within the police department has landed on the desk of 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin. He said some of the complaints are more than a year old.

“Payroll fraud, use of public funds for private purposes, use of public fuel in private vehicles, things of that sort,” Babin said were some of the allegations.

The town council fired its Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard on Tuesday. In a notice to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. lists: payroll fraud, use of public property for personal use, failure to cooperate during an investigation and failure to comply with a previous suspension as reasons for Ballard’s dismissal.

9 News obtained a questionnaire recently distributed to Sorrento police officers by town attorney, Donovan Hudson.

It asks officers if they know of incidents of:

– Improper use of personal vehicles
– On duty officers not within jurisdiction of town getting paid
– Entering improper, incorrect or fraudulent payroll information
– Improper use of town assets
– Improper use of equipment
– Any actions to cover-up investigations

Babin is tasked with finding out whether any of the complaints filed have merit.

“I have absolutely no facts to warrant any grand jury to ask for any warrants so I need somebody to investigate it.”

Babin said the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office has agreed to investigate.

“If there’s evidence that exists and we have to bring it to court we’ll have a very tough time getting a conviction. It affects public safety.”

Babin said he is not sure what is going on in the small Town of Sorrento.

“I don’t know if it’s political, one trying to one-up the other, or going through the extent of corruption that’s been alleged but we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his investigators met on Friday with a Sorrento employee and will continue looking into the allegations on Monday.

 

 

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Black teen who was brutalized by white cops on video is rearrested

Houston Police Teen Beating

Chad Holley, 18, right, is transported after being arrested as a suspect in a burglary. Legal experts say the new arrest of Holley, who was allegedly beaten by several Houston police officers during an incident caught on video, could pose problems for prosecutors who are still trying to get convictions in the case.

An 18-year-old who testified in the first trial of several former Houston police officers accused of beating him during a 2010 burglary arrest has been arrested again — on suspicion of burglary.

Less than two months after Chad Holley finished probation in connection with his 2010 arrest and conviction, he was arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of burglarizing a home.

Holley’s lawyer could not be reached for comment Monday.

A spokeswoman for Harris County Dist. Atty. Patricia Lykos declined to comment on how Holley’s new arrest might affect how prosecutors proceed, citing the pending trials.

Last month, a jury acquitted Andrew Blomberg, the first ex-Houston police officer to stand trial on a misdemeanor charge of official oppression in connection with Holley’s initial arrest.

Blomberg’s attorneys had argued that he was trying to secure a potentially armed suspect. Holley, who was 15 at the time of his arrest, testified that he hadn’t been resisting the officers. Black community leaders dismissed the verdict by an all-white jury as unjust and racist.

In video footage of the incident taken from a security camera, Holley could be seen falling to the ground, surrounded by at least five officers, some of whom appeared to be kicking and hitting his head, stomach and legs.

Four officers, including Blomberg, were later fired and indicted on misdemeanor charges in connection with the incident.

Holley, who appeared in court Friday in connection with his latest arrest, has been released on bond.

Attorney Benjamin Hall — who is representing Holley and his family in a federal lawsuit against Blomberg, the other fired officers and the city — told the Associated Press that the new arrest should not be part of the pending trials.

“I’m sure the judge will instruct [jurors] accordingly that the only conduct that is to be viewed is the criminal conduct these police officers did two years ago,” Hall said.

But attorneys for two of the fired officers yet to be tried told the AP they will try to get Holley’s new arrest records admitted into evidence.

“It helps in regard that we’ve been trying to portray him as a person that is not a law-abiding citizen, and he’s simply a dangerous person and continues to act in the same manner,” said Carson Joachim, an attorney for ex-officer Drew Ryser, told the AP.

Those trials have yet to be scheduled.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-holley-20120618,0,6782522.story 

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white female District Attorney illegally got her maid welfare

 

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore pulled strings to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, according to an internal report from the county’s Department of Social Services.

For the past year, Social Services has been probing how DiFiore’s housekeeper was suddenly approved for welfare benefits after having been previously denied three times for inconsistencies in her applications, The Post has learned.

“Okay we got to the bottom of this case. This was a political favor for Janet DiFiore’s maid. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE,” Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator, wrote in an internal e-mail June 30, 2011.

Vazquez, who also chairs the Yonkers Independence Party, alleged in the e-mail to Department of Social Services Commissioner Kevin McGuire that DiFiore’s housekeeper, Jamaican immigrant Marina Buchanan, should never have received benefits.

In a series of e-mails from June and July of last year, Vazquez claimed that DiFiore, a Republican-turned- Democrat, had Buchanan’s case file improperly re-opened after the Yonkers branch office denied benefits.

Buchanan, 58, was paid $200 a week in cash by DiFiore and got $315 a month in Social Security disability benefits, according to documents obtained by The Post.

It is unclear from the documents if Social Security taxes were paid on Buchanan’s wages.

Buchanan, who claimed she was a nanny and housekeeper for DiFiore since 1987, also didn’t disclose receiving the Social Security disability benefits while still working up to 18 hours a week for the DA.

Further, she had a credit card with a $55,000 limit, sources said, yet still sought county benefits.

“The question is why the special favor. Why are cases being opened in Central Office . . . Just because she is the District Attorney does not mean she is above the law!” Vazquez wrote.

County investigators are looking at the actions of a former Social Services official who is active in local Democratic politics, sources said.

Reached by phone, Vazquez, who has been with Social Services for 20 years, cited the ongoing investigation and declined to comment.

DiFiore’s spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said, “It is a personal issue that is related to her and her husband and I can’t comment.”

Her three children are now all in their 20s. It’s unclear if Buchanan still works for DiFiore, who was first elected DA in 2005.

Buchanan, who could not be reached for comment, wrote in documents that she left the DA’s employ in May 2010.

http://m.nypost.com/f/mobile/news/local/da_dirty_deal_DA3SqTrja1YWRfmgdvmlkJ

Views – 153