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May 31, 2012

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thumbnail Ravi starts prison term in suicide of Rutgers roommate
May 31st 2012, 17:12

By staff and news services

With prosecutors appealing for a longer sentence, former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi on Thursday arrived at a sheriff's department to begin a 30-day sentence in a case that exploded into the headlines when his roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide.

Indian-born Ravi, 20, was found guilty last March of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.

Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010, after finding out that Ravi saw him kissing another man and appeared to encourage others to watch his romantic encounters through a camera on his computer.

Ravi appeared in a New Jersey state court Wednesday to announce his decision to report to jail. reported that Ravi will likely get a 10-day credit for good behavior, and may serve only 20 days in jail. He was also sentenced to 300 hours of community service and $11,000 in fines.

Prosecutors are appealing Ravi's sentence, which they believe is too lenient, but they said they are not requesting the 10-year maximum sentence he faced.

Ravi could have remained free dring thee prosecutors' appeal. But during a hearing Wednesday, he agreed to waive his protection from double jeopardy. He is now not allowed to argue that he's already served his time if prosecutors prevail on their appeal and he receives a longer sentence.

Ravi's lawyer, Joseph Benedict, said he's still appealing the conviction altogether. 

Assistant prosecutor Julia McClure told the court that she felt statutory requirements warranted a five-year jail term.

But Judge Glenn Berman stood by his 30-day sentence. "I can't find it in me to sentence this gentleman to a state prison that houses people convicted of offenses such as murder, armed robbery and rape," Berman said. "I know he's an adult, but I think the interests of justice demand I deviate from the guidelines."

In a statement issued Tuesday through a lawyer, Ravi said he would begin serving his jail term Thursday.

"It's the only way I can go on with my life," he said in the statement -- which also included his first apology in the case.

Ravi apologizes for spying on roommate
More on Ravi from
Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi sentenced

"I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010 and September 21, 2010," Ravi's statement read. "My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions."

When Ravi was sentenced on May 21, Judge Berman chastised him for not apologizing for his actions.

"I heard this jury say 'guilty' 288 times," Berman said, referring to all the sub-parts of the charges Ravi faced, repeated once for each juror. "And I haven't heard you apologize once."

During the court proceeding, Ravi, who expressed remorse in March in an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger, chose not to address the judge, though he cried as his mother pleaded for mercy from the judge.

Because Ravi's sentence is under a year, it decreases chances that immigration authorities will try to have him deported to India, where he remains a citizen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Man interviews for job, ends up getting detained for 1975 murder
May 31st 2012, 16:08

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A Washington, D.C., man was detained for first-degree murder when a background check for a new job revealed an outstanding warrant in one of the oldest cold case murders in Montgomery County.

Bobby Coley, 63, of southeast Washington, was applying for work as a temp Tuesday, when a background check uncovered an outstanding warrant in his name. When Coley went to the sheriff’s office to clear his name and land the job, he had no idea the warrant was for murder.

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“We weren’t finding anything, and so we finally looked in judicial case search and we actually saw that a warrant popped up under that name, Bobby Coley, and it said, ‘first-degree murder,’” Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin said.

The victim, Leopold Lynwood Chromak, disappeared on July 26, 1975. Two days later his wife contacted police and reported him missing.

“But Mr. Chromak was never located, never returned home,” said Lucille Baur, of Montgomery County police.

In 1984, a detective learned that the missing person case was actually a murder-for-hire, and that Chromak’s wife, Frances, had hired three men -- Griffin, Smitty and Bobby Coley -- to kill her husband. According to police documents, the woman said her husband was abusive and had beaten her.

The three men allegedly smothered Chromak at Winexburg Manor Apartments in Silver Spring, Md., wrapped his body in a rug or carpet, took it to a van and dumped it along Central Avenue.

The 63-year-old Coley, who has been in and out of federal custody on various charges since 1968, was in the D.C. Jail when the arrest warrant was filed in 1984. He wasn’t detained afterward and apparently never knew of the warrant.

The detective investigating the murder-for-hire said Frances Chromak changed her name to Barbara Ann Stevens and moved to Laurel, Md. Her whereabouts are unknown but she is believed to still be alive.

The 1975 murder case presents challenges for prosecutors. No body has been found, there is no direct evidence against Coley, and anonymous sources who supplied information in the past may no longer be available.

“So, now the investigating begins anew,” Baur said. “Now we go back. We find the original case files, the records.”

The public defender representing Coley in court said there’s no proof there was a murder and it’s unfair to hold Coley in jail while police and prosecutors investigate.

The prosecutor said he has to assess the viability of the 37-year-old case.

Coley is being held without bond.

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thumbnail Teen stuck in Mexico over 'Leap Day' error may miss graduation speech
May 31st 2012, 15:49

By Miranda Leitsinger,

Elizabeth Olivas, who came to the U.S. illegally at age 4, went to Mexico to get a green card or visa to fulfill requirements of U.S. law and has not been allowed to return since she missed the deadline by a day.

A teen who is slated to give the salutatorian speech at her high school graduation Saturday may miss the big event because of an immigration deadline that she missed by a day.

Elizabeth Olivas, who came from Mexico when she was four, failed to meet a visa requirement by one day due to this year’s “Leap Day” and is sitting in a U.S. Consulate on Thursday awaiting her fate, according to her lawyer.

Olivas, who could get a green card because her father is a U.S. citizen, may be barred from entering the country for three years because of the calendar error. People in her situation are allowed 180 days unlawful presence in the country after their 18thbirthday, but after that time would need a waiver, said her attorney, Sarah Moshe, who provided with emails from her client since Olivas was unavailable for comment.

Olivas traveled from her home in Indiana to Mexico on April 17, the day she believed was her last chance to be within that180-day window. Not knowing how long it might take to get an appointment once she was in Mexico, she chose to stay in the U.S. for as long as she could beforehand, Moshe told

“I would never have sent her had I had any question in my mind,” Moshe said Wednesday evening, noting two legal calculators they had used said Olivas would need to be in Mexico on April 17, not April 16, to apply for an immigrant visa.  “It was a very innocent mistake … we were aware within days essentially and tried very hard to work in that timeframe but to no avail.”

Olivas, who turned 18 on Oct. 18, 2011, is at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez seeking an expedited waiver that could allow her to return home as soon as Friday. She is graduating from Frankfort High School in Frankfort, Ind., with a GPA over 3.9, was winter homecoming queen and has already been accepted into nursing programs. As part of the 400-page waiver application she is submitting at least 25 letters of support from her instructors, Moshe said.

Waiting at her paternal grandparents’ home in Chihuahua, Mexico – relatives she had not met before – she has experienced the highs and lows of the slow-moving immigration process. She has also missed her prom, Moshe said.

“In the past, on the days when there’s been no movement, it’s been really hard for her,” Moshe said. “Dealing with huge government agencies, there are days when nobody responds to email or returns a phone call. But she’s really excited right now, I mean she’s really hopeful.”

Almost-deported valedictorian helps introduce immigration reform bill

That latter sentiment was echoed in another email Olivas sent to Moshe on Wednesday: “I feel prepared and excited for what might come next!”

Principal Steve Edwards told the Indianapolis Star that Olivas has done her homework online while she has been in Mexico and her grades had not been affected.

"This is a very skilled, talented, beautiful young lady. This hurts me and is one of the hardest things I've ever dealt with in my life."

For the waiver application, Moshe is arguing that Olivas’ absence would prove a medical hardship on her father, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, among other ailments. If consular officials accept this, then the three-year bar could be waived.

“Last time he was in my office, he literally put his hand in front of me and stuck a finger out and said take my finger if you need to, just do anything,” Moshe said.

Can an illegal immigrant become a lawyer?

Maria Elena-Upson, a Dallas-based spokeswoman for USCIS, told the Indianapolis Star that the agency normally took applications as they came in and not out of turn. The process typically takes two to three months.

"I can sympathize with this situation, but it would not be correct," Elena-Upson told the newspaper.

Moshe said she would appeal if the consulate denies Olivas’ waiver application but it could mean that the teen would be stuck in Mexico.

Mom of deported teen runaway files federal lawsuit

“Don’t make an example of Elizabeth because this was innocent error,” Moshe said, noting that the family and their previous attorneys had “tried to do the right thing throughout the years.”

“Her family has been trying tirelessly to legalize her status so I would just ask that they (consular officials) please give careful consideration to this case … Elizabeth is exactly the kind of person we want as a member of our community.”

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thumbnail If the IRS overpaid you on a tax refund, would you give it back?
May 31st 2012, 15:38

An honest Ohio waitress who was expecting a $700 tax refund check instead received one for over $400,000. WKYC-TV's Dick Russ reports.

If the IRS overpaid you on a tax refund, would you give it back?

Total of 317 votes

Yes. It's a matter of personal honesty and honor.
114 votes
Yes. I'd be scared to death that I'd go to prison if I cashed it.
104 votes
Heck, no! It's about time I got a break!
99 votes

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