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Ex-Stanford Coach Sentenced to One Day in Prison in College Admissions Scandal

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  • A former Stanford sailing coach is now the first person to be sentenced for his participation in the massive college admission scandal.
  • John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge for accepting $610,000 in bribes to recruit two applicants with no sailing experience to the school’s team.
  • However, none of the money landed directly in Vandemoer’s pockets and instead was funneled into the school’s sailing program.
  • A judge sentenced him to one day in prison, which was counted as time already served, along with two years of supervised release with six months of home detention and a $10,000 fine.

Accepting Bribes

A former Stanford University sailing coach avoided prison time on Wednesday for his role in the massive college admission scandal after a judge handed him a one day sentence, which was counted as time already served.

John Vandemoer is now the first person to be sentenced for participating in the corruption scandal that involved wealthy parents securing their child’s acceptance into top universities by falsifying documents, paying bribes, and altering SAT test scores.

Vandemoer was fired from Stanford after it learned of his participation in the scam. He then pleaded guilty in March to one count of racketeering conspiracy for accepting $610,000 in bribes to recruit two prospective students.  Neither of the students had experience in the sport and ultimately neither ended up attending Standford.

According to the judge and lawyers on both sides, the money did not ever directly hit Vandemoer’s pockets, but instead went to the school’s sailing program.

Prosecutors asked for a 13-month sentence and a year of supervised release, along with a $250,000 fine. They argued that although he did not pocket the funds, Vandemoer still benefited from the corruption.

“While the defendant did not profit financially from his crimes in a directly measurable way … his actions nonetheless enhanced his own status within the university, gave him more money to use for the sailing program he implemented, and furthered his career,” they said.

“His actions not only deceived and defrauded the university that employed him, but also validated a national cynicism over college admissions by helping wealthy and unscrupulous applicants enjoy an unjust advantage over those who either lack deep pockets or are simply unwilling to cheat to get ahead,” the federal prosecutors added.

Sentencing

U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel ultimately sided with defense lawyers who pushed for the one day sentence, which the judge dismissed as time served. Vandemoer was also ordered to two years of supervised release with six months of home detention and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

“From what I know about the other cases, there is an agreement that Vandemoer is probably the least culpable of all the defendants in all of these cases,” Zobel said. “All the money he got went directly to the sailing program.”

Vandemoer apologized for his actions in court, saying “I want to be seen as someone who takes responsibility for mistakes.”

“I want to tell you how I intend to live from this point forward. I will never again lose sight of my values.” Outside of court, Vandemoer added, “Mistakes are never felt by just yourself, this mistake impacted the people I love and admire in my life.”

“Stanford is a place that I love … I have brought a cloud over Stanford, the amazing students, athletes, coaches and alumni,” he continued. “I have let you down and that devastates me. I have so much respect for all of you and never wanted to let you down, but I did. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life.”

Stanford Funds

The university vowed to take a closer look at its admission’s policies in the wake of the scandal. Then this week, it said it was studying what to do with the funds that stemmed from the scam.

“We continue to be in contact with state authorities regarding the proper way to redirect to another entity the funds that were contributed to the Stanford sailing program as part of this fraud,” Stanford said.

“We are eager to complete this process and will do so as soon as we have received the necessary guidance.”

Operation Varsity Blues

Vandemoer was one of several college coaches caught up in the scandal, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” At least 50 people were charged in the federal investigation, including Desperate Housewives star  Felicity Huffman and Full House’s Lori Loughlin.

Last month, Huffman pleaded guilty to mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying $15,000 to get her daughter’s SAT scores boosted. She is expected to be sentenced in September.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were handed additional charges of money laundering in April and have both pleaded not guilty.

See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (FOX News) (NBC News)


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Harvard Rescinds Parkland Student’s Admission Over Racist Remarks

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  • Harvard rescinded the admission of former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv after it became aware of racist comments he made about two years ago.
  • Kashuv posted a Twitter thread about the situation, prompting people on both sides of the political aisle to speak up.
  • Some said Harvard made the right call, while others found the situation to be unfair.
  • Harvard has rescinded applications over racist comments in the past and has not made a statement about their decision with Kashuv.

Kashuv Says Harvard Revoked Admission

Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv claims that Harvard University revoked his admission after old racist comments he made surfaced online.

Back in May, comments Kashuv made about two years ago in a Google doc study guide and in a Skype chat appeared online and were reported on by the Huffington Post. The comments included the repeated use of the n-word, as well as anti-Semitic language.

Since the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead, Kashuv has been an outspoken guns-rights and school safety activist. He has had meetings with President Donald Trump and has become a prominent conservative figure.

He stepped down from a leadership role in Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit student organization, after his former high school classmates threatened to leak these racist comments. He announced his departure in May and said he was stepping down because he wanted to focus on passing gun legislation.  

On Monday, Kashuv posted a Twitter thread addressing the comments, as well as Harvard’s decision to rescind his admission. He also re-issued an apology that he made in May when the comments picked up attention.

He then addressed the effects the incident has had on him since being picked up by the media. He also shared a letter from Harvard where the school asked for an explanation, but said that they have the right to withdraw an offer of admission.

He responded to the letter by apologizing for the comments and said he has grown since then. Kashuv said he is trying to be a better man to honor the friends he lost during the Parkland shooting. He also reached out to the schools Office of Diversity and Inclusion about his comments and about how to right his wrong.

He then goes on to say that Harvard decided to rescind his admission after receiving his letter of explanation, but he received a separate email from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Kashuv then asked for a chance to speak in-person with Harvard, but the school declined.

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Kashuv then addressed Harvard’s own past with previously employing slave owners, and argued that if they have grown, so can he. As of now, he also added that he does not know what his next steps will be as far as attending college next year.

Responses to the News

After posting this thread, Kashuv’s story made headlines and began trending on Twitter, prompting reactions from all sides of the political aise.

A Boston College professor said that since Harvard is a competitive school, his spot should be filled with someone who has not made these mistakes.

Adam Best, who hosts a podcast called The Left said that the right should not be reacting so heavily to this if they did not react to the shooting that so heavily impacted Kashuv’s life.

Comments that controversial right-wing figure Laura Loomer made back in May came up. She allegedly advocated for Kyle to be removed from Harvard.

On the other side, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch believed this was a political attack from Harvard.

Conservative teen activist CJ Pearson said he was able to forgive Kashuv’s words.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said that Harvard’s choice sets up an impossible standard.

Daughter of the late Senator John McCain, Meghan, spoke on the View saying that she fell down the middle on this issue. She said that while she thinks that some of Harvard’s decision was related to internet mob culture attacking Kashuv for his pro-gun views, she also does not think that his actions were acceptable.

“I had a really hard time coming up with how I feel because I really don’t think it’s too much to ask to not say the N-word from young people,” she said.

This is not the first time Harvard has rescinded the admission of a student based on racist remarks. In 2017, the school revoked the acceptance of ten students over comments they made in a Facebook group for students accepted into the school. Those comments included jokes about race, religion, and sexual violence, as well as racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

Right now, Harvard has not made a comment about Kashuv’s admission.

See what others are saying: (Vox) (Fox News) (Boston Globe)

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Alex Jones Accused of Sending Child Porn to Lawyers of Sandy Hook Victims

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  • Attorneys for the families of Sandy Hook victims who filed a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones said they were given emails from an Infowars account that contained child pornography.
  • During a segment of his show on Friday, Jones said that he had been set up by the families’ lawyers.
  • The attorneys, in turn, accused Jones of threatening one of the lawyers representing the families and distorting what actually happened.
  • Since April 2018, Jones has been involved in three separate defamation cases filed by the families of Sandy Hook victims over his efforts to spread the conspiracy theory that the 2012 elementary school shooting never happened.

Sandy Hook Lawsuits Against Alex Jones

Lawyers representing the families of Sandy Hook victims in a defamation lawsuit against far-right commentator Alex Jones said that they found child pornography in emails from an account for Jones’ show Infowars that had been turned over to them by his legal team.

Jones has famously supported the conspiracy theory that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened, even going as far as to say that “no one died” in Sandy Hook.

In April 2018, two families whose children were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting filed two separate defamation suits against Jones. The next month, six other families and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting filed a third defamation suit.

All three of the lawsuits say that Jones’ efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the shooting had lead to the families of the victims being harassed, stalked, and threatened.

In January 2019, a judge overseeing one of the cases ruled that Jones had to turn over Infowars’ financial documents as well as thousands of emails. The next month, the same judge decided that Jones would be required to make a sworn deposition.

Jones gave a three-hour long deposition in March, where he admitted the deaths were real, and said, “I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged.”

Lawyers Find Child Porn in Infowars Emails

In court documents filed Monday, the lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families said that when their legal team went through the Infowars emails, they found that the email metadata contained “numerous images of illegal child pornography.”

According to the legal documents, after finding the images, the legal team “immediately contacted the FBI.”

“The FBI directed counsel to give control of the entire document production to the FBI, which was done,” the lawyers wrote. “The FBI advised counsel that its review located numerous additional illegal images, which had apparently been sent to Infowars email addresses.”

The attorney’s also added that if Jones’ legal team “had engaged in even minimal due diligence and actually reviewed the materials before production, they would have found the images themselves,” continuing, “Because the Jones Defendants did not do that, they transmitted images to the plaintiffs that if they were knowingly possessed is a serious federal crime.”

Jones Responds in Show

The court documents said that the plaintiff’s legal team told Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, about finding the child pornography. Pattis then told Jones, who talked about it on The Alex Jones Show on Friday.

“The FBI looked at and said we’re the victim, it was hidden in Sandy Hook emails threatening us, that was child porn,” Jones said. “So it’s on the record we were sent child porn we’re not involved in child porn.”

However, Jones appeared to contradict that statement shortly after by claiming that the emails were planted by the families lawyers. “You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’m gunna get your ass,” Jones said, after firing off a series of expletives

A little later, Jones specifically named one of the attorneys that represents the families, Chris Mattei. Jones showed a picture of Mattei’s face, then slammed his fist on the photo. “What a good American, what a good boy,” Jones said mockingly. “I’m gonna kill…” he yelled, then trailed off.

Plaintiffs Accuse Jones of Threatening Mattei

In the same court document from Monday, the attorneys for the Sandy Hook families accused Jones of threatening Mattei and his firm.

“Alex Jones broadcast two segments of The Alex Jones Show identifying Attorney Chris Mattei by name and showing a picture of him, falsely claiming that Attorney Mattei tried to frame Jones by planting child pornography in discovery materials produced by Jones, distorting what actually occurred in the discovery process in this case,” the lawyers wrote.

“Here, threats against counsel have been made on air to a very large audience,” they added.

Pattis reportedly responded in a statement claiming that Jones did not threaten Mattei, and said Jones apologized for the statements he made on his show the next day.

Also during his show on Saturday, Jones said: “I’m not saying that the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families set me up or did this.”

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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Phoenix Mayor Apologizes After Police Pull Gun on Family in Shoplifting Confrontation

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  • The mayor and police chief of Phoenix are apologizing after newly released video shows officers using excessive force against a family whose daughter stole a doll from a dollar store in May.
  • The footage shows officers yelling orders at the parents and pointing a gun at the family’s car while threatening to shoot.
  • The family’s attorney is accusing the officers of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of the family’s civil rights, and says the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.

The Incident

The mayor of Phoenix apologized on Saturday after footage emerged showing police officers drawing their weapons on a couple whose 4-year-old had stolen a doll from a local dollar store.

The incident happened at the end of last month when Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, took a trip to a Family Dollar store with their two young daughters. According to the couple, they were unaware that their 4-year-old had at some point taken a doll from the store with her back to their car.

Police say they were tipped off about an alleged shoplifting incident by a store employee. Police then found the couple about a mile away at the apartment complex of their babysitter.

What followed as a heated standoff that was captured in now-viral cell phone footage. Video shows the officers shouting profanities at the parents. Officers can be heard telling the couple to put their hands up. “You’re gonna get fucking shot. Get your f*cking hands up.” one officer said.

While one officer points a gun at her, Harper says the car door was malfunctioning, making it difficult for her to exit the car. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter eventually exits from the back seat. Her mother follows, with her 1-year-old in one arm. An officer yells at her to hand the child over and grabs at the child.

A police incident report says the officers feared the mother was “hiding something” or was reaching for a weapon.

Claim Filed

The parents have now filed a notice of claim over the incident. Thomas Horne, the lawyer representing the couple, said the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violated of the family’s civil rights. In a letter sent to the city last week, he said the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.

The claim says that officer’s injured the 1-year-old child by pulling on one of her arms when Harper refused to follow an officer’s order to hand over the child.

The filing also claims Ames was thrown against a car and kicked so hard that he collapsed. Then an officer “kept his knee between the father’s legs. He punched the father very hard in the back for no reason,” Horne said.

The claim adds that after Haper handed over her baby to a bystander, the officers placed her and her partner under arrest and said: “I could have shot you in front of your f*cking kids.”

The couple’s attorney said the actions were “traumatic and utterly unjustified.”

Police Response

On Facebook, authorities said Ames admitted to stealing a pack of underwear and throwing it out the window of the car. He also allegedly said he was driving with a suspended license. But Horne says the couple denies telling officers that Ames had stolen underwear.

Neither side can even agree on the day the incident took place. The family’s claim said the incident happened on\ May 29, but police officers said it happened May 27. Police also said they were only made aware of the video on June 11.

The doll was returned to Family Dollar, according to officials. No charges were issues over the shoplifting, however, authorities issued Ames a traffic ticket for driving on a suspended license and impounded his car.

Phoenix police chief Jeri Williama, posted a video to the police department’s Facebook saying she was “disturbed by the language and the actions” of the officer on camera.

“I do want you to know that I expect our employees to maintain their professionalism and proper training at all times,” she added.

Williams also asked that the officers be taken off the street and placed on desk duty.

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Mayor Speaks Out

Mayor Kate Gallego said she was “sick” over what she had seen in the video, which has since picked up national attention. “It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional,” she said.

“There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”

Mayor Gallego has called for a community meeting on June 18, where the police chief is expected to address the public and answer their questions. She also said that in response to the incident, the city will be speeding up its implementation of body-worn cameras across the entire police department.

Now Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has also offered the family support. Team ROC spokesman Didier Morais said Sunday that the group has offered legal and emotional backing to the family.

“Team ROC has reached out to the family to provide legal support, call for termination of the police officers and ‘ensure the well-being of the children,’AZ Central reported.

The family’s current lawyer said that if the city doesn’t respond to the claim within 60 days, he can file a lawsuit.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (AZ Central)


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