The Recorder

National news in brief

Georgia Tech says 1 person arrested in protest is a student

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech says one of the people arrested during a protest following a vigil for a student killed by campus police is a student at the university, while the other two are not.

An officer shot 21-year-old Scout Schultz late Saturday. Investigators have said Schultz called 911 to report an armed suspicious person.

The school identified those arrested Monday night as Vincent Castillenti, Jacob Wilson and Cassandra Monden. Fulton County jail records identify the third person arrested as Andrew Xavier Monden.

The three appeared in court Wednesday and multiple news outlets report they were granted bond.

Georgia Tech said on its website Monden is currently enrolled at the school but the other two aren’t.

University president G.P. “Bud” Peterson said Tuesday he suspected the violence was caused by “outside agitators.”

Polygamous sect leader pleads guilty to escape, fraud

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A high-ranking polygamous sect leader recaptured after a year on the run pleaded guilty Wednesday in a food-stamp fraud and escape case, ending a wide-ranging investigation seen as a crackdown on the secretive group.

Lyle Jeffs is facing three to five years in prison after pleading guilty to two felony counts in an agreement that also called for him to pay $1 million in restitution.

U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber said it was a fair end to a hard-fought court battle. “We’re not out to punish people of faith, people with sincerely-held religious beliefs. We’re out to punish fraudsters. Lyle Jeffs is now a convicted fraudster,” he said.

Defense attorney Kathryn Nester declined to comment.

Jeffs will be sentenced Dec. 13 by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart — the same judge who reversed an earlier ruling and released Jeffs from jail to home confinement in 2016 while he was awaiting trial in the food-stamp fraud case.

Days later, Jeffs slipped off his ankle monitor using olive oil and escaped. He was on the run for nearly a year. Jeffs was caught after South Dakota pawn shop workers recognized him as he sold two pairs of pliers. He was apparently living out of his pickup truck.

Jeffs was one of 11 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints charged with helping funnel millions in food-stamp benefits to a communal storehouse and front companies. The funds were used to pay for a tractor, truck and other items. Jeffs was accused of orchestrating the scheme.

Governors, John Kerry promote 15-state Climate Alliance

NEW YORK (AP) — Governors and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are championing a 15-state coalition that’s tackling environmental issues.

New York’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Jerry Brown and Washington’s Jay Inslee — all Democrats, like Kerry — held a press conference Wednesday in New York to promote the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance .

The politicians say, among other things, that alternative energy is good for the economy.

They took some jabs at Republican President Donald Trump, who has said the United States is pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to combat global warming.

Paris deal supporters, including Kerry, have predicted Trump’s withdrawal would cause almost irreparable damage to America’s standing abroad and potentially its ability to negotiate diplomatic agreements.

The alliance positions itself as an alternative to accomplish environmental goals.

Powerball winner charged with sexually assaulting a child

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — A man who won a $338 million Powerball jackpot was charged on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a child.

Pedro Quezada was charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes said the child was between 11 and 14 years old when the assaults occurred.

Quezada, who’s 49, was scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Wednesday afternoon. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His attorney didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the case.

Valdes, the prosecutor, said there did not appear to be any other victims.

Quezada, who moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic about 30 years ago, worked 15-hour days at his bodega in Passaic before winning the lottery in 2013. He took a $152 million lump sum payment after taxes.

“My life has changed,” he said at a press conference when he was announced as the winner. “It will not change my heart.”

Quezada, of Wayne, became embroiled in legal matters after his big win.

He was accused of reneging on a promise to pay the rent of all his neighbors on his block in the days after he won the jackpot. He also was sued by a contractor who claimed he didn’t pay for renovations to a home he bought in Clifton.

California sues Trump administration to prevent border wall

SAN DIEGO (AP) — California sued the Trump administration Wednesday to stop construction of a proposed wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, arguing the federal government is overstepping its authority by waiving environmental reviews and other laws.

Asked about the lawsuit at an appearance in San Diego, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he expects to prevail in legal challenges to the wall — one of the president’s key campaign pledges.

“The United States government has the control of that border and a responsibility to secure it,” he told reporters at a landing dock where he touted a record set by the Coast Guard for cocaine seizures.

The California lawsuit came as private contractors prepare to build eight prototypes for the wall in San Diego.

The administration “has once again ignored laws it doesn’t like in order to resuscitate a campaign talking point to build a wall on our southern border,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said while discussing the case at a news conference in a state park where a fence juts into the Pacific Ocean to separate the U.S. and Mexico.

In a letter to Homeland Security, California Gov. Jerry Brown said construction would “wreak havoc on an important and well-used commercial corridor.”

The lawsuit filed by Becerra, a Democrat, largely mirrors two others by environmental advocacy groups that allege the administration overstepped its authority to speed construction of the wall.

His complaint specifically addresses stretches of 15 miles (24 kilometers) in San Diego — where the administration will build the prototypes — and three miles (4.8 kilometers) in Calexico, California.

Aides to Becerra believe a victory in the lawsuit would apply to the entire border, stretching nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

At issue is a 2005 law that gave the Homeland Security secretary broad powers to waive dozens of laws for border barriers, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act.

The Trump administration has issued two waivers since August, both in California. President George W. Bush’s administration issued the previous five waivers in 2008.

Legal challenges to border barriers have failed over the years amid concerns about national security. The Congressional Research Service said in a report this year for members of Congress that it saw no legal impediment to Trump’s proposed wall if deemed appropriate for controlling the border.

Becerra’s lawsuit — like one filed by the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund — contends the government’s power to waive the laws expired in 2008, when it met a congressional requirement for erecting fences on about one-third of the border.

The Center for Biological Diversity argues in its lawsuit that the 2005 law “cannot reasonably be interpreted to exempt compliance with the waived laws in perpetuity.”

Timothy Patterson, a supervising California deputy attorney general, said he expected the three lawsuits to be consolidated under one federal judge, possibly Gonzalo Curiel because he was assigned the earliest one.

Trump repeatedly criticized Curiel during the campaign for his handling of lawsuits against now-defunct Trump University, suggesting the judge’s Mexican heritage carried a bias.

Becerra’s legal action is the latest in a series of lawsuits he has filed against the administration. He has sued over Trump’s decision to halt a program that protects young immigrants from deportation and has battled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over regulations.

During his appearance in San Diego, Sessions also called attention to Coast Guard seizures of more than 227 tons of cocaine during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

In addition, he reiterated opposition to legalization of marijuana for recreational use — three months before pot sales are expected to begin in California.

Sessions said federal law prohibiting marijuana still applies.

“It doesn’t strike me that the country would be better if it’s being sold at every street corner,” he said.


Ronanye reported from Sacramento, California.