Pasco woman charged in $1.5M I.D. theft bust

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Eric Glasser

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Mug Shots: Notorious Women

Wesley Chapel, Florida — A lakefront pool home, expensive cars, and high-end electronics: that’s the life-style prosecutors say a Pasco County woman has been living on the back of taxpayers.

Feds descended on the home in Wesley Chapel less than 24 hours ago and they say they found evidence of an IRS tax fraud scheme.

It was all being run, they say, from inside a house on Loch Aline Drive. The home sits in an unassuming, quiet suburban neighborhood. On Wednesday there was still a Jaguar in the driveway and a BMW the garage.

A man who drove up while we were there declined to comment.

Agents arrested 27-year-old Tania Henderson, calling her the ring-leader in an I.D. theft scheme that tried to cheat Uncle Sam out of $1.5 million.

Neighbor Randy Willis says he and his wife had always suspected something was going on.

“They never spoke,” said Willis.

But they always saw lots of people coming and going at all hours of the day, and always driving expensive cars.

“Truth is, my wife has even mentioned that as a possibility with all those cars, and they always seemed to be home,” said Willis.

Inside the garage there are still stacks of shoes and other unopened boxes of merchandise.

Bobby Lavertue, who was delivering a pizza to the home, says he’s been there several times before. Lavertue says there’s plenty of high-end property in addition to those cars inside the house.

“There’s TV boxes in there. Brand new TV’s. I’ve seen the inside of their house a little bit and from what I could see, it’s very nice. High quality,” he said.

Living the high life, say prosecutors, on your dime. Inside the house, agents say the found $5,000 cash, debit cards and several I.D.’s. In all, they say nearly 200 bogus tax returns were filed using a computer they seized from the home.

They say Henderson used names belonging to people both alive and dead.

Henderson allegedly did not work alone, and more arrests are expected. She is being held on $10,000 bond at the Pinellas County Jail.

The charges in the case originated in Missouri, which is where prosecutors say Henderson used to live. They say more than a dozen of the checks were mailed there. A handful also went to Maryland, and more than two dozen were mailed to Florida.

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Crisis tests Egyptians’ constitution

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Members of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly talk during the last voting session on a new draft constitution at the Shoura Assembly in Cairo on Thursday.

News analysis

Updated at 4:40 a.m. ET: CAIRO, Egypt — Constitutions are often messy affairs. Our own Constitutional Convention, in 1787, was convened secretly, behind guarded doors. Many delegates were suspicious it was all a ploy by George Washington to wrest power from personal freedoms.  Some delegates walked out before the hard work even began. And once the writing was finished, four of the 13 states didn’t even ratify it.

But few constitutions have generated the road bumps — or media coverage — that Egypt’s new, post-Hosni Mubarak constitution has. 


There are several reasons why this particular document is getting so much attention. It’s not only because it would detail Egypt’s future government and the values upheld by it. All constitutions do that. What makes this constitutional process unusual is the way in which it’s been hijacked by the political crisis playing out in Egypt today — a crisis that pits Islamists, led by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, against their opponents, led primarily by Egypt’s judges.

Liberals, Christians left out as Islamists back Egypt’s draft constitution

When Egypt’s first “Constitutional Assembly” met to begin its work, the 100 delegates knew they were embarking on something historic — for the first time in Egypt’s long history, they were tasked to produce a document that showcased and protected Egypt’s fledgling democracy. But the euphoria didn’t last long. Within months, Egypt’s Islamist-laden parliament — the body that created the assembly— was dissolved by court order, driven by mostly Mubarak-appointed judges.

Shortly thereafter, a series of legal challenges threatened the constitution-writing panel itself. By this time it had become clear to non-Islamist delegates that the Islamists on the panel were determined to write a defense of Islamic aspirations. More than one-quarter of them — representing secular Egyptians, liberals,  Christians and other minorities — walked out. It appeared the panel, by then entirely Islamist, would be dissolved by the judges.

It’s with this backdrop that Morsi made public his controversial decree last Thursday. In a sweeping retort to the judges, he declared that his every ruling, the remaining upper house of parliament, and the Constitutional Assembly, all be above the law. He gave the assembly two more months to complete its work and offer up a final document for ratification. That, as we now know, triggered the turmoil in the streets which some are already calling Egypt’s “Second Revolution.” Two young Egyptians have been killed, and hundreds wounded in clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters and riot police. But the international media still calls it a “constitutional crisis.”

President Mohammed Morsi recently granted himself unprecedented power, leaving many Egyptians furious. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood colleagues then decided to go for broke, and gamble that a pro-Islamist constitution rammed through the assembly would be ratified by the Egyptian people.

That is far from a certainty. More than 200,000 opponents demonstrated in a massive show of support in Tahrir Square on Tuesday night, calling Morsi’s decree — and the new constitution – illegal. 

“This is nonsensical and one of the steps that shouldn’t be taken, given the background of anger and resentment to the current constitutional assembly,” opposition leader and former head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told Reuters. 

‘You had your revolution. This one is ours’
Another large anti-Morsi protest is now scheduled for Friday. And the Muslim Brotherhood is organizing its own “million-man” march on Saturday, one it now says will not end at Tahrir Square to avoid any confrontation with protesters who have turned the Square into a “Muslim Brotherhood-Free Zone.”

Khaled Mahmoud, a 26-year-old volunteer medic who has set up a makeshift clinic for wounded protesters just off the Square, told NBC News he would tell Saturday’s would-be Muslim Brotherhood protesters, “Step back. You had your revolution. This one is ours.”

But now — in yet another morphing from its intended role — Egypt’s new constitution has become a pawn in Morsi’s exit from all the chaos. The assembly, which, again, had two more months to work, is racing through its completion in just 48 hours.

More Egypt coverage from NBC News

As the Constitutional Assembly put each article to a vote Thursday afternoon, liberal delegate Mohamed Mohyeldin objected.

“There is a rush in the voting, we should slow down the pace, so that we do not give the impression that we have a problem that we are afraid of and are running away from. We have two months,” he said.

But on State TV the speaker, Hossam al Gheryani, said in reply, “We are waiting for those who want to return…we would be happy for them to participate … [but] there are those who said they wanted nothing to do with this Constitutional Assembly.”

Bishop Paula was among the angry delegates who refused to return and vote Thursday.

“We know already the result of the vote because of the unbalanced [Islamist] formation of the assembly. The result is settled whether we go or not,” said the representative of the Orthodox Church on live TV. 

Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi, who had granted himself sweeping new powers that would have made all of his rulings immune to judicial review, is facing continued public outcry despite his decision to soften the decree by limiting those rulings to ‘sovereign’ matters. NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

And what about the constitution itself? As it rolls off a government website, it appears to be in every way the expression of a pro-Islamist society about half the nation hoped for, and the other half feared. It would not only make conservative Sharia law the law of the land, but expand that, constitutional experts here say, to “dangerous” levels. Besides Islam, only Christianity and Judaism — fellow Abrahamic religions — would be recognized. 

Ominously, its Article 11 reads: “The State and society shall be committed to safeguarding and protecting ethics and public morals.” One expert on Egyptian TV warned that this would lay the groundwork for the appearance of “vice and virtue” (vigilante) squads.

Morsi’s speech to the nation Thursday night explained the reasons behind his decree, and set the timeline for a national vote on the new, fast-tracked constitution. He has 30 days to conclude the ballot. If it passes — and the Muslim Brotherhood has yet to lose a vote — it will allow Morsi to remove a large monkey from his back. He could then transfer his legislative powers to a new (likely Islamist) parliament, elected within two months of ratifying the constitution.

So, in theory, the current “constitutional crisis” could be over in three months. Or there could be a new, even more turbulent one, further splitting apart the nation.

Jim Maceda is an NBC News foreign correspondent based in London who is currently on assignment in Cairo. He has covered the Middle East since the 1970s.

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, has suffered a stroke but is OK and resting in a Las Vegas hospital, a family friend said on Thursday. “He was doing well and says he’s feeling OK,” close family friend Brian Oxman told Reuters. Oxman, Michael Jackson’s one-time attorney, said the 83-year-old patriarch of the pop music family started experiencing weakness on Wednesday while walking in a park near his home and was later admitted to a hospital. Jackson has a history of strokes, Oxman said. “He was talking fine,” Oxman added. “He sounded excellent to me.” A former …

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During November Sweep, “ABC World News” Dramatically Closes Total Viewer …

“ABC World News” Dramatically Closes Total Viewer Gap with “NBC Nightly News” by 31% During November Sweep Versus 2011 While Also Narrowing Demo Gap

 ”World News” Grows Both Total Viewing and Demo Audience in November Sweep, Year-to-Year

Season-to-Date, ABC Increases its Overall Audience and Cuts Viewing Gap with NBC by 20%

For the November 2012 sweep, “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” delivered 8.28 million Total Viewers and a 1.8 rating/7 share/2.18 million among Adults 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research.

For the 2nd November in a row, “ABC World News” cut its sweep gaps with “NBC Nightly News” in Total Viewers (-31% – 730,000 vs. 1.06 million) and Adults 25-54 (-3% – 396,000 vs. 407,000), turning in its smallest November sweep margins with the NBC program in 4 years – since November 2008.

“World News” improved on the November 2011 sweep (7.96 million and 2.12 million – November 2011) among both Total Viewers (+4%) and Adults 25-54 (+3%) to draw its largest overall November audience in 4 years and strongest in the demo in 3 years – since November 2008 and November 2009, respectively.  In addition, “World News” was up by double-digits versus the previous sweep (7.22 million and 1.89 million – July 2012) in Total Viewers (+15%) and Adults 25-54 (+15%) to post its best numbers in 7 sweeps periods – since February 2011.    

Plus, “World News” outperformed CBS’ “Evening News” by 1.44 million Total Viewers and by 243,000 Adults 25-54 viewers during the November 2012 sweep.

During the November sweep the newscast reported on the impact of Superstorm Sandy, brought viewers the whole political picture leading up to and following the 2012 Presidential election, and provided a global perspective on the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

For the week of November 19, 2012, “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” averaged 8.26 million Total Viewers and a 1.7 rating/7 share/2.04 million in Adults 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Season-to-date, “World News” has increased its Total Viewing audience (7.67 million vs. 7.65 million) compared to the same point last season, drawing its most-watched season in 3 years – since 2009-10. In addition, “World News” has narrowed its Total Viewer gap (-20%) with “NBC Nightly News” by double-digits for the second year in a row to post its smallest gap (648,000) with the NBC program in 4 years– since the 2008-09 season. 

“World News” beat the “CBS Evening News” by 1.20 million Total Viewers and 133,000 Adults 25-54.

Note: Last week, George Stephanopoulos anchored “World News” Monday-Tuesday. ABC’s and CBS’ weekly averages are based on two days (Mon-Tue), while NBC’s weekly average is based on three days (Mon, Tues Fri). With Thanksgiving week, “ABC World News” and “NBC Nightly News” were coded as specials on Wednesday and Thursday and “CBS Evening News” were coded as specials from Wednesday thru Friday.  All specials are excluded from the weekly averages.  In addition, “World News” on Friday aired only on the West Coast. 

“ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” airs at 6:30 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network.  Michael Corn is the executive producer of the broadcast. Follow Diane Sawyer and the “World News” team online: @DianeSawyer; @ABCWorldNews; facebook.com/DianeSawyer; facebook.com/WorldNews.

EVENING NEWS (November 2012 Sweep)

EVENING NEWS (Week of November 19, 2012)

Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 Live + SD weeks of 11/19/12, 11/12/12 11/21/11.  Most Current – 2011-2012 Season (9/24 – 11/25/12) and 2011-2012 Season (9/19 – 11/27/11).  November 2012 Sweep (10/25-11/21/12), November 2011 Sweep (10/27-11/23/11) and July 2012 Sweep (6/28 – 7/25/12).   Sweep periods (November, February, May and July).  All averages based on regular telecasts.

Israeli defense chief Barak quits politics — but for how long?

Roni Schutzer / AFP – Getty Images

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday announces that he is quitting political life after a decades-long career that also saw him serve as prime minister.

News analysis

TEL AVIV, Israel – Internet forums in Israel sprang to life when Ehud Barak made his surprise announcement that he would retire from politics in eight weeks. The overwhelming sentiment on Ynet and other newspaper forums — good riddance. 

But the key question is, does he mean it? Consider his background.

Israel’s most decorated soldier, universally recognized as a brilliant special forces officer, in the army for 36 years. When he went into politics he became foreign minister within two years, then prime minister and now defense minister.

And he’s 70 — not at all old in Israeli politics.

Now think of the reasons he gave in his press conference to end his spectacular career in Israel’s military and political power centers: to spend more time with his family. “I want to study, write, live and have a good time,” he said.

What Gaza fighting taught Israel about possible war with Iran

Barak has already earned considerable wealth through lectures and business consulting, and has a reputation among Israelis for enjoying the high life. So much so that to counteract that reputation, which he feared would hurt him in the polls, he sold his apartment in the plush Akirov Towers in Tel Aviv and bought an apartment in a more modest new building.

But that was in March when retiring from politics must have been the last thing on his mind.

Kobi Gideon / GPO via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Ehud Barak visit Israel’s northern Israeli border with Syria on November 14 in an image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO).

At the time he wrote on his Facebook page that his older home “gives a sense of alienation and detachment from the public and so we decided to move to a smaller and less expensive apartment.”

So the idea that Barak would decide to devote the rest of his life to having “a good time,” just when Israel faces one of its most momentous decisions ever — whether or not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities — and as Israel faces numerous military challenges, from Gaza to Hezbollah, to Iran and Syria, rings false to some analysts.

The real reason for the dramatic announcement, one political source said Monday, is that the party Barak founded in January this year, “Independence,” is set to get trounced in the elections scheduled for Jan. 22. Barak would rather leave while on top, leaving the door open to a future return to politics.

Bernat Armangue / AP

Israel’s military said it had accomplished its objectives while Hamas claimed victory after the two sides exchanged deadly airstrikes and rocket attacks for over a week.

Launch slideshow

Barak came out of last week’s mini-war with Hamas in Gaza looking good. He was seen as the restraining hand, the responsible adult, in Israel’s leadership trio of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and himself as defense minister. Israel set modest goals and achieved them with minimal loss of life at home.

After 8 days of Gaza violence, Israel declares mission accomplished, Hamas claims victory

So why retire now? The answer is that the announcement came as a surprise and it is too early to know.

One thing is for sure — few here think he means it.

Martin Fletcher is the author of “The List”, “Breaking News” and “Walking Israel”.

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