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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/us/crime (Page 81)

Fotis Dulos, estranged husband of Connecticut missing mother, Jennifer Dulos, and his girlfriend arraigned

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6044040387001_6044037781001-vs Fotis Dulos, estranged husband of Connecticut missing mother, Jennifer Dulos, and his girlfriend arraigned fox-news/world fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/connecticut fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/regions/south-america fox news fnc/us fnc eea792c0-6623-5a2a-b98b-bf4a0df76368 Barnini Chakraborty article

NORWALK, Conn. — Fotis Dulos, the estranged husband of Jennifer Dulos, the Connecticut mother of five who has been missing for more than a week, is likely to face further charges in the coming days, prosecutors said during a Monday arraignment on evidence tampering allegations, and asked Dulos’ bail be kept at $500,000.

No plea was entered by Dulos or his girlfriend, who was also arraigned on tampering charges in a separate hearing Monday at Norwalk Superior Court.

Dulos, 51, and girlfriend Michelle Troconis, 44, were arrested late Saturday at a hotel in Avon, Conn., on charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution relating to the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos. Dulos’ lawyer Monday said it was unlikely he would be able to post bail immediately. Troconis’ attorney said she would be able to make her $500,000 bail Monday. She will have to wear a GPS monitor.

Troconis, a multilingual high-roller who has interviewed celebrities on television and helped launch an upscale ski resort in Argentina, arrived at the courthouse first. Her brown hair was tied up in a ponytail and she did not speak to the media. Fotis Dulos arrived in court soon after wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Fotis Dulos and Troconis became romantically involved about a year before Jennifer Dulos filed for divorce and moved to the close-knit community in New Canaan. Authorities have hinted other charges against the couple could be coming soon.

HUSBAND OF MISSING CONNECTICUT MOM ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH HINDERING PROSECUTION, TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE 

Since Dulos was reported missing 10 days ago, local, state and federal authorities have been “working around the clock” to find her, New Canaan police said in a statement Sunday.

Specifically, authorities spent the weekend searching Fotis Dulos’ sprawling 10,000-square foot Farmington mansion, as well as a nearby residence Dulos’ company, Fore Group, had developed. Armed with search warrants, investigators showed up at the Farmington home Sunday with more than a dozen state police vehicles and two canine units.

In the past 72 hours, state police obtained DNA samples from Fotis Dulos, who, for the past two years, has been locked in a contentious custody battle with his wife over the couple’s five children, who range in age from 8 to 13.

Dulos’ disappearance continues to be treated as both a missing-person case and a criminal investigation, New Canaan Police Lt. Jason Ferraro said.

The 50-year-old brunette was last seen driving a black Chevy Suburban 10 days ago, when she dropped off her children at their private school in New Canaan. Authorities spent three hours Friday handing out flyers that featured a picture of Dulos and her vehicle.

The circumstances surrounding Dulos’ disappearance have taken an ominous turn in recent days as more information has emerged about the couple’s rocky relationship.

RESIDENTS IN CONNECTICUT TOWN NERVOUSLY WAIT AS SEARCH FOR MISSING MOM JENNIFER DULOS DRAGS INTO DAY 8

According to court documents, Jennifer Dulos said she was “terrified for (her) family’s safety, especially since discovering the gun, since my husband has a history of controlling, volatile and delusional behavior.” She also accused her husband, who was born and raised in Greece but attended college in the United States, of threatening to kidnap their children and take them to Greece.

Fotis Dulos, who married Jennifer 13 years ago, has strongly pushed back on his wife’s allegations. He has said he turned in his handgun to the Farmington police and accused his wife of being the unfit parent. He also said she had mental health issues, asserting at one point she verbally attacked him and called him names in front of guests.

Members of the affluent Connecticut town have been gripped by the case.

“Stuff like this doesn’t happen here,” Leila Roxo, an associate at LoLo Bag, an accessories boutique in New Canaan, told Fox News. “It’s a really quiet and safe town. Parents are OK just dropping off their kids and letting them walk around town, eat, have ice cream, buy something and then picking them up. It’s pretty safe.”

Roxo, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said she worries most about Dulos’ children and the scars they may carry from their mother’s disappearance.

“The 8-year-old is definitely going to remember some stuff,” Roxo said. “I don’t know how far apart the other ones are, but I have a 6-year-old and I feel like if this were to happen to her, she’d definitely remember.”

On Sunday night, hundreds of people packed into St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for the second vigil held in a week for Dulos.

Eric Cooper, the head of the New Canaan Country School, described Dulos as “an incredibly warm person” and a “devoted mother who supported everything her children did.”

“We’re heartbroken,” he said. All five of the Dulos children attend the private school.

Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for the family, said last week the children “miss their mother terribly, but they are doing as well under the circumstances as one could.”

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The kids are reportedly with their maternal grandmother, Gloria Farber, in New York City. Farber and her late husband sued Fotis Dulos, claiming in court documents he did not repay a $1.7 million loan he borrowed to buy and redevelop high-end homes.

Fox News’ Lissa Kaplan contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6044040387001_6044037781001-vs Fotis Dulos, estranged husband of Connecticut missing mother, Jennifer Dulos, and his girlfriend arraigned fox-news/world fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/connecticut fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/regions/south-america fox news fnc/us fnc eea792c0-6623-5a2a-b98b-bf4a0df76368 Barnini Chakraborty article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6044040387001_6044037781001-vs Fotis Dulos, estranged husband of Connecticut missing mother, Jennifer Dulos, and his girlfriend arraigned fox-news/world fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/connecticut fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/regions/south-america fox news fnc/us fnc eea792c0-6623-5a2a-b98b-bf4a0df76368 Barnini Chakraborty article

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Florida murder suspect released from jail on court mix-up: report

A Florida man charged with first-degree murder was released from Broward County Jail Thursday on a court mix-up and authorities are trying to get him back in custody, according to a report.

Eric Vail, 28, was arrested in January for allegedly shooting and killing a man last October. Vail and a suspected accomplice were indicted in April with first-degree murder, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Westlake Legal Group Capture Florida murder suspect released from jail on court mix-up: report fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc e372d5c5-190f-511e-a762-7cb7509183ca Bradford Betz article

Eric Vail, a Miami man charged with first-degree murder, was released from jail on Thursday, officials said. (SSMG)

Vail was facing two separate cases in Broward Circuit Court – one from the January arrest, and another for the April grand jury indictment. On Thursday, Circuit Judge closed the January case because the charges were addressed in the April indictment.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said it received “unequivocal direction that the second degree murder charge on Eric Vail had been dismissed. We did not have and have not yet located any documentation stating the subject was to be held on another charge.”

TEXAS MURDER SUSPECT FOUND DEAD AFTER BODIES OF 2 CHILDREN DISCOVERED IN BURNING CAR

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who is representing Vail, said his client is “not supposed to be out,” and his office hasn’t heard from him.

“Our main priority at this time is to locate and apprehend this dangerous criminal,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

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Anyone with information regarding Vail’s whereabouts is urged to contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Westlake Legal Group Capture Florida murder suspect released from jail on court mix-up: report fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc e372d5c5-190f-511e-a762-7cb7509183ca Bradford Betz article   Westlake Legal Group Capture Florida murder suspect released from jail on court mix-up: report fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc e372d5c5-190f-511e-a762-7cb7509183ca Bradford Betz article

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Bishop faces backlash after tweet about Pride Month

Rhode Island’s Roman Catholic bishop on Sunday defended a tweet urging Catholics to not support or attend LGBTQ Pride Month events, saying it was his obligation to teach the faith “clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues.”

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin sparked a backlash beginning Saturday when he tweeted, “A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.”

The posting spurred rebukes by thousands of people who replied on Twitter, including actresses Mia Farrow and Patricia Arquette. Many invoked the scandals of clergy sexual abuse of children in the church.

“This is pure ignorance & bigotry,” Farrow wrote. “Ignore this hate-filled hypocrite. His mind set leads only to suffering. He brings to mind those priests who molested my brothers. Of COURSE we should embrace our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and children. Jesus spoke of love.”

Arquette tweeted, “Shame on you. LGBT kids are thrown out on the streets and abandoned because of poisonous thinking like yours.”

The diocese on Sunday released a statement by Tobin.

“I regret that my comments yesterday about Pride Month have turned out to be so controversial in our community, and offensive to some, especially the gay community,” Tobin said. “That certainly was not my intention, but I understand why a good number of individuals have taken offense. I also acknowledge and appreciate the widespread support I have received on this matter.”

Tobin added that he and the Catholic Church have “respect and love for members of the gay community.”

“As a Catholic Bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues,” he said.

As of Sunday afternoon, 69,000 people had replied to the tweet, about 15,800 liked it and nearly 4,700 retweeted it. Many of those who replied supported the bishop.

The LGBTQ group Rhode Island Pride held a rally outside the diocese’s headquarters in Providence on Sunday evening.

“Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, about Pride, or the Queer community,” the group’s president, Joe Lazzerini, said in a statement. “Rhode Island Pride respectfully calls on Bishop Tobin to do some self-reflection as the majority of Catholic Rhode Islanders in this state reject the idea that to be Catholic is to be complicit to intolerance, bigotry, and fear.

“Bishop Tobin doesn’t represent the majority of Rhode Island Catholics who support the LGBTQIA+ community in Rhode Island,” he wrote.

Tobin is a conservative bishop who has said that he was aware of incidents of sexual abuse reported to church officials while working in Pennsylvania, but that it wasn’t his job to deal with them. He was auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh from 1992 until 1996. A Pennsylvania grand jury report last year detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, including the Pittsburgh diocese.

In July 2018, Tobin deleted his Twitter account, calling it a major distraction, an obstacle to his spiritual life and an “occasion of sin” for himself and others. But he resumed tweeting in January, according to his current Twitter account.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-58f929191f8a49fba998e132bc30b8d8 Bishop faces backlash after tweet about Pride Month PROVIDENCE, R.I. fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 84f83061-ec3e-50fc-ae9a-4e7ec78c67aa   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-58f929191f8a49fba998e132bc30b8d8 Bishop faces backlash after tweet about Pride Month PROVIDENCE, R.I. fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 84f83061-ec3e-50fc-ae9a-4e7ec78c67aa

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‘Mentally ill’ Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens

A 48-year-old Miami con man was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison on Friday after having spent years impersonating Prince Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and swindling wealthy investors out of millions.

Anthony Gignac, who reportedly suffers from mental illness as a result of a traumatic childhood, has spent the majority of his life falsely claiming to be various Saudi royals. He has documented the tremendous wealth he’s accumulated by defrauding investors rigorously on his social media accounts, which show off his private jet, expensive meals, diamond-encrusted hands, Rolex watches and beloved chihuahua, Foxy.

Prosecutors painted a picture of a criminal “mastermind” with no regard to the lives he ruined financially throughout the duration of his trial, which concluded on Friday. Gignac is believed to have conned dozens of wealthy individuals worldwide out of more than $8 million over the last few years, but he insists that there are others who should also be held accountable.

“The entire blame of this operation is on me, and I accept that,” he told U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, before arguing that “other people” should also have been charged.

“I am not a monster,” he added, according to the Miami Herald.

Gignac has been in and out of prison most of his adult life over the last 30 years and has been arrested at least 11 times, prosecutors said.

ARREST IN COLD CASE MURDERS OF COUPLE 43 YEARS AGO SHOCKS WISCONSIN TOWN

The Miami native is a U.S. citizen but was born in Bogota, Colombia, where his brother claimed they were abandoned by their parents. They were adopted by a family in Michigan, and allege that they experienced abuse as children.

Gignac’s brother reportedly said it would be too painful to attend the trial, but prepared a statement to be read in court in his brother’s defense.

“This horrific history is the underlying reason for his criminal life,” Gignac’s brother said of him. Specifics on their upbringing are not available.

Westlake Legal Group Sultan-Bin-Khalid-Al-Saud-GettyImages-73665773 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Gignac impersonated Prince Sultan Khalid Al-Saud, the 79-year-old governor of Mecca (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Gignac’s criminal enterprise began in 1987 after he secured a California state ID identifying himself as Khalid al-Saud. The real Khalid Al-Saud is the 79-year-old governor of Mecca. Gignac went to great lengths to impersonate Al-Saud, even ripping photos of the prince and posting them to his own Instagram account: @PrinceDubai_07.

In 1991, at the age of 21, Gignac swindled the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles for a $3,488 bill and a limousine company for $7,500 while posing as a Saudi prince. He was arrested and pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft, credit card abuse and check forgery, and was labeled as the “Prince of Fraud” by the Los Angeles Times.

That arrest proved to be the tip of the iceberg, as Gignac continued to spend the next 26 years impersonating Saudi royals and creating a criminal enterprise.

FLORIDA WOMAN’S BRUTAL COLD-CASE MURDER HEATS UP, COPS MAKE ARREST

In 2015, he joined forces with a North Carolina businessman, Carl Williamson, to create Marden Williamson International. The fraudulent company reportedly presented Gignac as a member of the Saudi royal family who was offering exclusive business deals and investment opportunities.

Things began to change for Gignac in 2017, when he expressed interest in purchasing the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. He met with esteemed real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer, who became interested in negotiating a deal for the $1 billion hotel with who he believed was a legitimate investor.

Westlake Legal Group Jeffrey-Soffer-GettyImages-85435836 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Federal authorities were tipped off to Gignac’s scheme by real estate mogul Jeff Soffer, who became suspicious of Gignac while they were discussing a deal for the con man to purchase the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami. (Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts)

Soffer reportedly shelled out $50,000 for gifts to woo the “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud” — and the two began to spend more time together in business meetings and aboard private jets. Eventually, however, Soffer became suspicious and began to doubt that Gignac was really who he said he was.

In particular, he was tipped off by the fact that Gignac frequently consumed pork products, which goes against the practices of the Muslim faith.

His security team began to investigate Gignac and discovered his true identity, and reported him to federal authorities.

Gignac was arrested and charged alongside his business partner Carl Williamson, who later committed suicide.

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The ensuing trial stretched on for the last two years and has concluded with an 18.5-year prison sentence for Gignac.

All of his wealthy trappings flaunted on his Instagram account including Cartier bracelets, his red Ferrari and diamond rings are set to be auctioned off to pay back millions he stole from the 26 victims of his crimes.

Westlake Legal Group anthony-gignac-mugshot 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26   Westlake Legal Group anthony-gignac-mugshot 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Mentally ill’ Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens

A 48-year-old Miami con man was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison on Friday after having spent years impersonating Prince Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and swindling wealthy investors out of millions.

Anthony Gignac, who reportedly suffers from mental illness as a result of a traumatic childhood, has spent the majority of his life falsely claiming to be various Saudi royals. He has documented the tremendous wealth he’s accumulated by defrauding investors rigorously on his social media accounts, which show off his private jet, expensive meals, diamond-encrusted hands, Rolex watches and beloved chihuahua, Foxy.

Prosecutors painted a picture of a criminal “mastermind” with no regard to the lives he ruined financially throughout the duration of his trial, which concluded on Friday. Gignac is believed to have conned dozens of wealthy individuals worldwide out of more than $8 million over the last few years, but he insists that there are others who should also be held accountable.

“The entire blame of this operation is on me, and I accept that,” he told U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, before arguing that “other people” should also have been charged.

“I am not a monster,” he added, according to the Miami Herald.

Gignac has been in and out of prison most of his adult life over the last 30 years and has been arrested at least 11 times, prosecutors said.

ARREST IN COLD CASE MURDERS OF COUPLE 43 YEARS AGO SHOCKS WISCONSIN TOWN

The Miami native is a U.S. citizen but was born in Bogota, Colombia, where his brother claimed they were abandoned by their parents. They were adopted by a family in Michigan, and allege that they experienced abuse as children.

Gignac’s brother reportedly said it would be too painful to attend the trial, but prepared a statement to be read in court in his brother’s defense.

“This horrific history is the underlying reason for his criminal life,” Gignac’s brother said of him. Specifics on their upbringing are not available.

Westlake Legal Group Sultan-Bin-Khalid-Al-Saud-GettyImages-73665773 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Gignac impersonated Prince Sultan Khalid Al-Saud, the 79-year-old governor of Mecca (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Gignac’s criminal enterprise began in 1987 after he secured a California state ID identifying himself as Khalid al-Saud. The real Khalid Al-Saud is the 79-year-old governor of Mecca. Gignac went to great lengths to impersonate Al-Saud, even ripping photos of the prince and posting them to his own Instagram account: @PrinceDubai_07.

In 1991, at the age of 21, Gignac swindled the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles for a $3,488 bill and a limousine company for $7,500 while posing as a Saudi prince. He was arrested and pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft, credit card abuse and check forgery, and was labeled as the “Prince of Fraud” by the Los Angeles Times.

That arrest proved to be the tip of the iceberg, as Gignac continued to spend the next 26 years impersonating Saudi royals and creating a criminal enterprise.

FLORIDA WOMAN’S BRUTAL COLD-CASE MURDER HEATS UP, COPS MAKE ARREST

In 2015, he joined forces with a North Carolina businessman, Carl Williamson, to create Marden Williamson International. The fraudulent company reportedly presented Gignac as a member of the Saudi royal family who was offering exclusive business deals and investment opportunities.

Things began to change for Gignac in 2017, when he expressed interest in purchasing the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. He met with esteemed real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer, who became interested in negotiating a deal for the $1 billion hotel with who he believed was a legitimate investor.

Westlake Legal Group Jeffrey-Soffer-GettyImages-85435836 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Federal authorities were tipped off to Gignac’s scheme by real estate mogul Jeff Soffer, who became suspicious of Gignac while they were discussing a deal for the con man to purchase the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami. (Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts)

Soffer reportedly shelled out $50,000 for gifts to woo the “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud” — and the two began to spend more time together in business meetings and aboard private jets. Eventually, however, Soffer became suspicious and began to doubt that Gignac was really who he said he was.

In particular, he was tipped off by the fact that Gignac frequently consumed pork products, which goes against the practices of the Muslim faith.

His security team began to investigate Gignac and discovered his true identity, and reported him to federal authorities.

Gignac was arrested and charged alongside his business partner Carl Williamson, who later committed suicide.

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The ensuing trial stretched on for the last two years and has concluded with an 18.5-year prison sentence for Gignac.

All of his wealthy trappings flaunted on his Instagram account including Cartier bracelets, his red Ferrari and diamond rings are set to be auctioned off to pay back millions he stole from the 26 victims of his crimes.

Westlake Legal Group anthony-gignac-mugshot 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26   Westlake Legal Group anthony-gignac-mugshot 'Mentally ill' Miami con man sentenced to 18 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royal, swindling dozens fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 35fc4950-fbde-528e-8142-b9b471398e26

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Missing mom’s estranged husband and his girlfriend arrested

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Missing mom's estranged husband and his girlfriend arrested New Canaan (Conn) fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 201a1669-e35d-559e-a9d9-d9d6067dd5f7

Police in Connecticut have arrested a missing mother of five’s estranged husband and his girlfriend on charges of evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.

New Canaan authorities announced Sunday the arrests of 51-year-old Fotis Dulos (‘DOO-lohs) and 44-year-old Michelle Troconis. Both were detained on $500,000 bail and are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Norwalk Superior Court.

Details of the allegations were not released.

Fifty-year-old Jennifer Dulos went missing May 24 after dropping her kids off at school. Police have already searched locations in several towns, including a park in New Canaan where Jennifer Dulos’ vehicle was found.

Jennifer and Fotis Dulos have been embroiled in a contentious divorce and child custody case for the past two years.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Fotis Dulos and Troconis have criminal court lawyers who could respond to the allegations.

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Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds

A former West Virginia official who made headlines in 2016 for calling then-First Lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” has been sentenced to jail for embezzlement.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, admitted in court to falsifying a claim that her home was damaged during severe flooding in West Virginia in 2016, for which she was given more than $18,000 in FEMA relief funds. As previously reported, Taylor was facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted. On Friday, however, she was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

She was also required to pay $18,149.04 in restitution, according to prosecutors.

Taylor previously worked as the director of Clay County Development Corp., a nonprofit which provides services to elderly and low-income residents in the central West Virginia area. She was let go in 2016 after she penned a Facebook post about Michelle Obama following President Trump’s election.

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a [sic] Ape in heels,” she wrote.

A few months later, West Virginia was struck by catastrophic flooding that destroyed at least 500 homes and left six people dead.

WEST VIRGINIA PRINCIPAL ACCUSED OF PLAGIARIZING ASHTON KUTCHER SPEECH

Westlake Legal Group WV-Floods-2015-RT Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, admitted in court to falsifying a claim that her home was damaged during severe flooding in West Virginia in 2016, for which she was given more than $18,000 in FEMA relief funds (West Virginia Department of Transportation/Handout via Reuters)

ONE-ARMED FORMER WEST VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR SUES OVER BEING HANDCUFFED WRIST-TO-ANKLE: REPORT

Taylor reportedly claimed that her home in Procious, W. Va., along the Elk River, was damaged by the flooding, but that her primary address was on Main Street.

It was later revealed that Taylor and her husband actually live in the town of Bickmore, and were not impacted by the floods, Daily Mail reports.  The couple does, in fact, own a Procious property but no one was living there at the time of the flooding.

“There’s no such thing as a little bit of FEMA fraud,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement.

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“Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most.”

Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang contributed to the reporting of this story. 

Westlake Legal Group michelle-obama-MICHELLE0519 Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313   Westlake Legal Group michelle-obama-MICHELLE0519 Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313

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‘Picture perfect neighbor’ among the slain in mass shooting

Joshua Hardy was a neighbor who would mow the lawn next door as a favor. One of his grieving neighbors returned that favor Saturday as a posthumous tribute after Hardy became one of the 12 people killed in a mass shooting at a city building in Virginia Beach.

“In the Josh fashion, I dropped my mower down a little extra lower because that’s what he would have done today,” said Clay Rosser, 44. “He cut his grass kinda like clockwork. He was a very meticulous guy.”

Rosser also fashioned a wooden cross and planted it in the front yard of Hardy’s home, where the 52-year-old city engineer lived alone. Neighbors described Hardy as a deeply religious man.

“He was the picture perfect neighbor,” said Damion Houston, 48. “God fearing man. Always trying to keep people’s heads in the right place and give you hope.”

Houston said Hardy’s brother stopped by the house Friday night, looking for him, when he got a call to go over to a school where people were learning the fate of loved ones. Neighbors’ worst fears were confirmed when the names were released Saturday morning.

During a Saturday news conference, city officials identified the 12 killed in the shooting Friday at a Virginia Beach municipal building, showing their photos, and giving details of their lives. Eleven of the twelve were city employees; one was a contractor.

The other victims are:

Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake: A right of way agent with more than four years in public works.

Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach: An engineer with six years in public works.

Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach: A right of way agent with 24 years in public works.

Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach: A right of way agent with nine years in public works.

Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach: An engineer with 10 years in public utilities.

Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk: An engineer with 28 years in public utilities.

Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan: An engineer with 11 months in public works.

Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach: An account clerk with more than 12 years in public utilities.

Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach: An administrative assistant with 12 years in public utilities.

Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake: Special projects coordinator with 41 years in public utilities.

Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach: A contractor there to fill a permit.

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Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-079445ec696d40bd83a1f215b391533b 'Picture perfect neighbor' among the slain in mass shooting MICHAEL KUNZELMAN fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc b3c56374-6c8d-547e-a20e-4e9643a62e19 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-079445ec696d40bd83a1f215b391533b 'Picture perfect neighbor' among the slain in mass shooting MICHAEL KUNZELMAN fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc b3c56374-6c8d-547e-a20e-4e9643a62e19 Associated Press article

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Man who impersonated Saudi prince to steal gets 18 years

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Man who impersonated Saudi prince to steal gets 18 years miami fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 2946735e-15bb-5a11-9286-b55d7b640503

A man who repeatedly impersonates Saudi royals to con investors and live a lavish lifestyle has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for a ruse that fell apart when a victim saw him eating pork, which is prohibited in Islam.

Anthony Gignac, 48, received the sentence Friday in Miami for stealing at least $8 million while pretending to be “Sultan Bin Kahlid Al-Saud.” He bought a Ferrari, Rolex watches and rented a condo on an exclusive South Florida island with his loot. He pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, impersonating a diplomat and other crimes.

The Miami Herald reports that U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga called him a “mastermind.” Prosecutors said it was at least the 11th time Gignac, 48, had been arrested for impersonating a Saudi prince.

“He was the so-called Saudi prince. He enveloped himself in the trappings of Saudi royalty. He had everyone believing he was a Saudi prince,” Altonaga said.

Gignac was born in Colombia but was adopted by a Michigan family as a young child. He is an American citizen.

He told Altonaga on Friday that while he accepted responsibility, other people were involved and should have been charged.

“I am not a monster,” he said.

His public defender, Ayana Harris, told the judge that Gignac’s difficult childhood contributed to his problems. She read a letter from his younger brother, Daniel Gignac, who described how they were abandoned in Colombia. Their adoptive parents later divorced. Daniel Gignac said his brother was forced to care for him.

“This horrific history is the underlying reason for his criminal life,” Harris read from the brother’s statement.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gignac stole more than $10,000 from a limo company and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 1991. He pleaded no contest. The New York Times reports that in 2006, Gignac pleaded guilty to charging $28,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to the account of a Saudi royal. He also tried to withdraw nearly $4 million from a Citibank account that didn’t exist.

In Gignac’s latest scam, he and a now-dead business partner, Carl Williamson, created a fraudulent investment company, Marden Williamson International, in 2015.

They told investors that Gignac was Saudi royalty and that he had access to exclusive deals. A Swiss victim invested $5 million.

In 2017, he convinced Jeffrey Soffer, the owner of Miami Beach’s Fountainebleau hotel, that he wanted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into his famed resort. Soffer gave him $50,000 in gifts.

Soffer caught on when he saw Gignac wolfing down bacon and other pork products at meals. He alerted authorities.

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Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com

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Houston school bus driver charged with DWI blames it on bad donut

A Houston school bus driver who authorities say drove drunk with children on board has blamed her bad driving on an upset stomach caused by a donut.

Linda Sue Godejohn, 55, was charged with driving while intoxicated after police say she failed a field sobriety test “miserably” when they pulled her over in Spring, Texas on Thursday afternoon. Godejohn posted a $100 bond and was released from the Harris County Jail on Friday morning

“We ended up getting the bus driver out of the bus, giving her a field sobriety test, which she flunked miserably, and she was immediately placed into custody,” Constable Mark Herman told Click2Houston.

FORMER SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SENTENCED TO PROBATION AFTER ADMITTING TO RAPE OF TEEN GIRL:REPORT

Bystanders say they noticed her bus moving erratically and called 911. A witness says the bus swerved onto the left shoulder of a road, hitting a divider before veering back.

Westlake Legal Group Linda-Sue-Godejohn Houston school bus driver charged with DWI blames it on bad donut fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 3fd6bbac-2068-5627-b541-7c28fa64e739

Linda Sue Godejohn in a mugshot taken by the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office on May 31, 2019. (Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office)

“When she hit the wall, I was, like, ‘Woah, she’s about to flip,’ because it wasn’t just a little tap, she was on the wall, the tire started to crawl up on the wall,” a witness told Click2Houston.

Police say they pulled Godejohn over when they noticed the bus making a sharp turn, which nearly caused it to roll over.

Godejohn made a statement to reporters as she left the jail, saying she hasn’t had a drink in years and blamed her bad driving on a donut eaten earlier that day.

“My stomach was just hurting so bad that a wheel fell off the thing, the curb,” Godejohn said. “That’s all it was, and going 45 mph, it’s going to whip back.”

When asked about the field sobriety test she failed, Godejohn replied: “Because it’s hard, I mean I couldn’t even do it right now.”

Police say the bus driver was transporting around 30 students from YES Prep Public Schools’ North Forest campus when they pulled her over. Godejohn told reporters the parents of the students shouldn’t worry because their kids have been riding on her bus all year long and “nothing has changed.”

Harris County District Attorney’s Office says it plans to upgrade the charge against her to driving while intoxicated with a child passenger.

“We discovered that one of the children on the bus was under the age of 14, which triggers a higher charge a felony charge for DWI,” said Sean Teare of the district attorney’s office.

SCHOOL BUS DRIVER PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN FATAL I-80 COLLISION

First Student, the company that employees Godejohn, said she has immediately been removed from service pending the outcome of the investigation

Even with these charges, police won’t officially know if she was driving while intoxicated until the blood test results come back.

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“Until we get the blood back, were not gonna know what the actual cause of her impairment was,” said Teare. “Rest assured it was not a donut.”

Westlake Legal Group Linda-Sue-Godejohn Houston school bus driver charged with DWI blames it on bad donut fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 3fd6bbac-2068-5627-b541-7c28fa64e739   Westlake Legal Group Linda-Sue-Godejohn Houston school bus driver charged with DWI blames it on bad donut fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime fox-news/food-drink fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 3fd6bbac-2068-5627-b541-7c28fa64e739

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