Lawsuit claims USC doctors used drug that ‘Keeps injured players on the field’

Feb 22, 2013

LOS ANGELES — A former USC defensive end can move forward with most of the allegations in his lawsuit against the school that claims  team doctors gave him painkillers that caused a heart attack and damaged his future potential as an NFL player, a judge ruled today.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos said there were enough details in Armond Armstead’s complaint to support for now his allegations of fraud and negligence.

She also said his lawyers can file within 20 days an amended complaint clarifying how USC purportedly interfered with Armstead’s economic prospects as a professional player, his emotional stress claim and how team physician Dr. James Tibone allegedly battered him.

Palazuelos dismissed the suit’s products liability allegations.

Armstead filed his suit last Aug. 30. It alleges that Tibone and other USC doctors irresponsibly treated Armstead while he played for the Trojans, requiring him to take the painkilling drug Toradol several times without informing him of the possible side effects.   Armstead’s lawyers maintain Tibone battered Armstead by giving him Toradol “without limitation” and “without his informed consent.”

The suit — which also names Tibone and University Park Health Center — alleges that USC knew Armstead suffered a heart attack and purposely withheld that he had received Toradol from his doctors. Attorney Robert Bale, on behalf of Armstead, told Palazuelos that USC officials knew Toradol was inherently dangerous to administer to Armstead.

“It’s really not a lot different from steroids,” Bale said. “It made him feel like Superman, that he was invincible.”

According to Bale, Toradol is not used for medical reasons, but instead to keep injured players playing instead of recuperating.

“It keeps injured players on the field to benefit USC financially,” he said.  Armstead was given an ultimatum regarding the drug, Bale said.

“If you don’t get this shot, you don’t play, and if you don’t play, you don’t get scouted, and if you’re not scouted, you don’t play in the NFL,” Bale said.

Armstead had wanted since childhood to play in the NFL, Bale said.

“This was his goal, his dream, his desire,” Bale said.

But USC attorney Louis Pappas disputed Bale’s characterization of Toradol.

“Toradol is a safe drug,” he said.

Armstead, 22, played three seasons for USC from 2008-10, starting 17 games and recording 59 tackles. He was not medically cleared to play for the Trojans in 2011 because of a training incident.   Armstead was not taken in the draft, but played last season with the Grey Cup-winning Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. The Argonauts released him in January and that same month he signed with the New England Patriots. He is listed on the team roster as a defensive tackle.

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Bell closing arguments: Defendants relied on city attorney, independent auditor who never questioned salaries

Feb 21, 2013

LOS ANGELES – Defense attorneys urged jurors today to acquit a former Bell mayor and two ex-city council members of charges that they misappropriated funds by collecting exorbitant salaries, arguing their clients had been falsely accused of criminal misconduct that has tarnished their reputations.

Lawyers for former Mayor Oscar Hernandez and former councilmen Luis Artiga and Victor Bello told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against the three, who are charged along with former council members Teresa Jacobo, George Cole and George Mirabal.

Hernandez, 65, Jacobo, 55, and Mirabal, 63, are each charged with 20 counts of misappropriating public funds between January 2006 and July 2010.

Bello, 54, is charged with 16 counts of misappropriation between January 2006 and December 2009, while Artiga, 52, is charged with 12 counts of misappropriation between January 2008 and July 2010 and Cole, 63, is charged with eight counts of misappropriation between January 2006 and December 2007.

Hernandez’s attorney, Stanley Friedman, told jurors during his closing argument that the council members “did a lot more” than kissing babies, shaking hands and cutting ribbons.

The defense lawyer showed jurors a list that included the names of the city attorney, city clerk, the city’s auditing firm, police chief and city engineer, and said none of them told Hernandez that the council members’ salaries were illegal.

“Nobody thought the salaries were illegal … He didn’t think it was illegal. Nobody did,” Friedman told the seven-woman, five-man panel. “It certainly wasn’t criminally negligent for him to rely on the advice of (then City Attorney) Ed Lee.”

Artiga’s attorney, George Mgdesyan, said the prosecution had not even gotten close to proving its case.

“This case is full of holes and speculation against my client,” he told jurors, describing Artiga as “working hard every day” at a post he thought was a full-time job.

“He’s being prosecuted for receiving money that he worked hard for,” Mgdesyan said.

Artiga’s attorney said his client had been on the council for less than two years and didn’t vote on his salary, which he described as being $65,000 to $70,000 — rather than $100,000 as Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller said in his closing argument.

“What was my client supposed to do? Did he have a right to presume it was lawful?” Artiga’s attorney asked jurors.

He described Artiga as a man who “wanted the best for the citizens of Bell” and was “not this greedy person that the prosecutor wants to portray.”     Mgdesyan said his client had been “falsely accused” and that his reputation had been “tarnished” as a result of the charges.

Bello’s attorney, Leo Moriarty, told jurors that they would be acting as a bridge over troubled waters for his client, referring to the troubled waters as “the criminal prosecution in this matter.”

“The prosecution’s case is an imaginary evil. It’s an evil that doesn’t exist,” he said, telling jurors that there was “nothing of substance” in the government’s case.

Moriarty said the prosecutor’s characterization of Bello being “nothing more than a charlatan” and a man who was paid $100,000 a year to work at the city’s food bank after leaving the council was “absolutely contrary to what Mr. Bello is and was.”

He said the six defendants had “done nothing wrong to justify them being here today,” and “were not just paid to be at the city council meetings.”

Bello’s attorney called his client “totally innocent,” saying it was “not a matter of the city of Bell defendants here thinking they were above the law” as the prosecution contends.   The jury was set to hear this afternoon from Mirabal’s attorney, Alex Kessel.   Jurors were also expected to hear a rebuttal argument from the prosecution before the case is turned over to them.   In his closing argument Wednesday, the prosecutor told jurors that the six gouged taxpayers by collecting “outrageous salaries” for serving on various city agencies in a “city turned upside down by a culture of corruption.”

Miller contended that the defendants paid themselves illegal salaries for sitting on four boards — the Community Housing Authority, Surplus Property Authority, Public Financing Authority and Solid Waste and Recycling Authority.

“There was no authority of law for these outrageous salaries the defendants paid themselves,” the deputy district attorney told jurors. “… There’s none, zip.”

“The defendants in this case believed they were above the law and carried out their duties with a criminal disregard …,” Miller said. “This was a city turned upside down by a culture of corruption.”

Miller showed jurors an organizational chart of the city, with the electorate at the top. He then flipped it over, saying the defendants didn’t have residents at the top of their chart.

In closing arguments Wednesday, attorneys for Jacobo and Cole maintained that their clients relied on the city attorney and an independent auditor who never questioned their salaries, and said the defendants honestly believed the money reflected a reasonable amount given the time they spent doing city work.

In urging jurors to acquit his client, Jacobo’s attorney, Shepard Kopp, said the vast majority of his client’s work was “not done within the confines of a city council meeting” and said the government’s case was “based on a fundamental misunderstanding.”

“They’ve been focused all along on the meetings and only the meetings, and that’s not where the work was done,” Kopp said, calling Jacobo a “person who was deeply dedicated to her community.”

Cole’s attorney, Ronald Kaye, called his client “a decent, hard-working and honest human being” who worked tirelessly on behalf of the city and “relied on professionals” to advise him if there was a problem with the council members’ salaries.

Kaye said the former councilman — who stopped taking a city salary in 2007 — voted in 2008 to increase the salaries of his fellow council members “because he feared his programs would be attacked by Robert Rizzo,” who was then the city manager.

Jacobo, Mirabal and Cole all testified in their own defense during the trial, insisting in part that they were paid in accordance with the amount of work they performed for the city.

Rizzo and his then-assistant, Angela Spaccia, are awaiting trial in a separate corruption case. More than 50 counts of fraud have been filed against against Rizzo, seen as the ringleader of the alleged effort to loot the city’s treasury by paying bloated salaries to himself and other officials and arranging illicit loans of taxpayer money.

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Remesas de salvadoreños se incrementan 5.1% en enero

Feb 20, 2013

En el primer mes de 2013, El Salvador ha recibido $281 millones en remesas, la cifra  representa un incremento de 5.1% en comparación con lo registrado en enero de 2012.

El Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador (BCR) destaca que en enero de este año los salvadoreños residentes en el extranjero enviaron $13.6 millones más que lo registrado en el primer mes de 2012, donde el país percibió $267.3 millones.

Del total de remesas que ingresaron a la economía salvadoreña, el sistema bancario pagó a los beneficiarios el 62%, mientras que el 32.3% fue liquidado por agentes de envío y receptores de remesas, las cajas, cooperativas de ahorro y crédito; y el 5.7% restante fue trasladado a los beneficiarios por salvadoreños que visitaron El Salvador o viajaron hacia Estados Unidos y por los gestores de encomiendas.

Una de las razones de este incremento es la mejoría de los índices de la economía de Estados Unidos durante los primeros tres trimestres de 2012, en este país  es donde reside la mayor parte de salvadoreños.
En el comunicado difundido por el BCR se destaca información de otros países que son receptores de remesas. Se detalla que en enero, Guatemala recibió un monto de $357.9 millones en remesas familiares, registrando una tasa de crecimiento de 17.3%.

Mientras que para el mes de diciembre Nicaragua tuvo un crecimiento de 11.3% en remesas, Honduras logró 3.4%. Las cifras fueron alentadoras para la mayoría de naciones latinoamericanas a diferencia de México y Colombia que a diciembre de 2012, registraron caídas de -1.3% y -2.25% respectivamente.


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Presidente Obama habló del impacto de la medida llamada “secuestro”

Feb 19, 2013

Presidente Obama habló del impacto de la medida llamada “secuestro”

Acompañado de oficiales de bomberos y policías a los cuales saludo de mano después del discurso que duró 15 minutos en el South Court Auditorium de la Casa Blanca.

Bereavision TV El Monte, CA Febrero 19, 2013.- El punto principal de esta disertación fue para urgir que el congreso actué en estos próximos diez días restantes antes de que se venza el plazo del acuerdo denominado como “Secuestro”,  que tiene como objetivo estabilizar las finanzas del recorte presupuestario forzosamente.  Si no se realiza este ajuste en el presupuesto como propone el presidente, la economía sufrirá cortes automáticos y afectará a mucha gente de la clase media en los Estados Unidos.

Así que ahora los republicanos en el Congreso se enfrentan a una elección simple: ¿Están dispuestos a comprometerse a proteger las inversiones vitales en la educación y la salud y la seguridad nacional y de todos los puestos de trabajo que dependen de ellos? ¿O más bien poner en riesgo a cientos de miles de puestos de trabajo y toda nuestra economía y sólo para proteger a unos pocos, cubriendo lagunas fiscales que sólo benefician a los estadounidenses más ricos y las más grandes corporaciones? Esa es la elección.”, destacó Barack Obama lanzando su bola de fuego a los republicanos en el congreso.

En el Capitolio se dijo que si no se llegaba a un acuerdo en el recorte del presupuesto se llevarían a cabo penalidades arbitrarias en este año que se vencen a partir de este próximo viernes.  Según la información dada, estos cortes automáticos del presupuesto le darán un duro golpe a los servicios militares, inversiones en educación, Medicare, investigaciones medicas, agentes de servicio de emergencias, agentes de patrullas fronterizas, agentes del FBI, Agentes federales, maestros, educadores y millones de americanos perderán el acceso a cuidados médicos de primer auxilio, prevención de salud, vacunas y chequeos contra el cáncer.

Es un error pedir a la clase media que soporte todo el peso de la reducción del déficit.  Y por eso no voy a firmar un plan que perjudica a la clase media”, afirmó el presidente Barack Obama en su arenga.

Lo peor es de que la respuesta de pagar los platos rotos en este episodio del corte del presupuesto estaría en los hombros de la clase media, los ancianos jubilados y no en los millonarios “eso no es balance…mucha gente perderá su trabajo…es una mala idea”, replicó el presidente con preocupación.  Estas fueron algunas de las palabras del presidente y presionó al congreso para actuar en esta semana y tener un plan para mejorar la situación de los recortes presupuestales y no dañar a la clase media y los servicios que necesita.

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Violence leaves 4 dead

Feb 19, 2013

TUSTIN – Six people were shot today in Tustin, Ladera Ranch and Orange this morning, four of them fatally, including the suspected shooter, who apparently killed himself, law enforcement officials said.

A preliminary investigation indicates the suspect who shot the others died in the city of Orange, said Tustin police Lt. Paul Garaven. The case involved an attempted carjacking, he said.

“There are multiple (crime) scenes throughout Tustin and the surrounding areas,” he said. Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said there were a total of six shooting scenes.

Four people were shot in Tustin, Garaven said. The shootings occurred about 5:20 a.m., he said.

At least two people were transported to nearby hospitals, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

A woman was shot and killed in Ladera Ranch, and the suspect, described as a man in his 20s, was “not a threat to the community,” Amormino said.

The other shootings:

— A person was fatally shot at the McFadden offramp from the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, Garaven said.

— A shooting on Edinger Avenue east of the 55 Freeway left one person dead and another person wounded, Garaven said.

— A shooting at Red Hill Avenue and the Santa Ana (5) Freeway left a person wounded, Garaven said.

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Los Angeles Lakers owner dies

Feb 18, 2013

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who helped transform the franchise into the most successful and glamorous team in North American professional sports, died today, the team and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center confirm. He was 80.Buss died at 5:55 a.m., according to Cedars-Sinai spokeswoman Sally Stewart.Buss had spent time in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with an undisclosed form of cancer, according to the Los Angeles Times.In December 2011, he was hospitalized for treatment of blood clots in his legs that officials said were caused by extensive traveling.

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House burns down

Feb 16, 2013

WOODCREST – Flames gutted a garage, spread throughout a single- story Woodcrest home and displaced two people, authorities said today.

No one was injured during the blaze that was reported shortly after 9 p.m. Friday in the 17700 block of Nandina Avenue, Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman Jody Hagemann said.

A cause behind the fire was not disclosed but firefighters contained the flames within 40 minutes. The American Red Cross was called to help the two occupants, Hagemann said.

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Gang Sweep

Feb 16, 2013

HEMET – Task force members targeting gang members swarmed the San Jacinto Valley and arrested 22 people for numerous alleged crimes, a sergeant said today.

Two teens, who were booked for possessing a semi-automatic handgun, were among the suspects the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force arrested Friday.

Most of the arrests occurred in the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto, where the suspects were arrested for crimes ranging from traffic warrants to weapon violations, Hemet police Sgt. Matt Hess said.

About 30 officers went to areas where the gang members were known to frequent. The officers also conducted checks to see if the suspects were complying with the terms of their probation and parole, Hess said.

The task force, which was formed in April 2006, is made of up members of the Hemet Police Department, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies.

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Dorner, cop killer gains support

Feb 16, 2013

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LOS ANGELES- Thirteen demonstrators, calling themselves “We Stand With Christopher Dorner,” gathered in front of Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters in Los Angeles today to decry the death of the fired L.A. policeman as he faced arrest.The small number of protesters was expected to grow to more than 200 by noon, organizers said.”We’re protesting some of the police brutality — not just LAPD, but all over the nation,” said Lomita resident Vincent Namm, a former Marine. “With Chris Dorner, habeas corpus just got thrown out the window.””I’m a veteran myself,” he told City News Service. “It’s like they (the police) were judge, jury and executioner. Of course, if the police are those three things, we have something called a police state.”They didn’t seem like they were even interested in apprehending him,” Hamm said.Radio communications between San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies captured deputies calling on colleagues to burn down the cabin near Angelus Oaks, where the suspected cop-killer had just shot two deputies and was holed up.Dorner had already killed two policemen and the daughter of a retired officer, and was shooting at the deputies when the radio messages were broadcast.San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon insisted Friday that deputies did not intentionally set fire to the cabin to get Dorner out of the cabin. McMahon said the comments were not made by command personnel and were unauthorized, off-hand remarks by deputies or officers who were under heavy gunfire.Today’s demonstrators began to gather a little before 10 a.m. near the corner of First and Main streets before making their way to 100 W. First St., where they were met by yellow police tape bordering LAPD headquarters. There were at least three officers at different positions in front of the building, along with three parked television vans.Namm said demonstrators would probably stay until about 3 p.m. and remain peaceful.Some people on social media and elsewhere have expressed support for some of the criticisms of the department Dorner expressed in a lengthy manifesto posed online amid his 10-day killing spree.”The police don’t do the right things — especially when it comes to Latinos and blacks,” said Antonia Ramos, one of the protestors. “It wasn’t fair how this guy (Dorner) died.”CNS-02-16-2013 10:58

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“No drama, no boom boom” bank robber

Feb 15, 2013

LOS ANGELES – The FBI today sought the public’s help in locating the bank robbery suspect dubbed the “Boom Boom Bandit.”The man is wanted for a bank robbery and an attempted bank robbery at a Chase bank branch at 12335 Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista, and a Bank of America branch at 11501 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles, both on Tuesday, said Laura Eimiller of the FBI.The suspect is white and between 35 and 40 years old. He is 6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 180 to 220 pounds and has brown hair that may be a wig.Authorities said the suspect used a written note demanding cash during the robberies. The note also provided an assortment of instructions for the teller.”The demand note stated, in part, ‘No drama, no boom boom,”‘ Eimiller said. The contents of the note is believed to suggest that an explosive device would be detonated if the teller did not comply with the demand.In a bank surveillance photo the suspect was seen displaying a device in a bag described by witnesses as red flares wrapped in tape with wires attached, Eimiller said.”The barrel of a handgun was also seen inside the bag presented to the victim teller,” Eimiller said.Authorities urged anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect to contact the nearest FBI office or call 911.

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