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Ex-Navy SEAL to stand trial in $1m fraud

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A former U.S. Navy SEAL accused of bilking people out of more than $1 million in an investment fraud scheme has been ordered to stand trial in San Diego.

Jason Mullaney was ordered Monday to face trial on 30 felony charges, including grand theft and fraud. He's pleaded not guilty but remains jailed and faces up to 34 years in state prison if convicted.

Prosecutors contend that Mullaney defrauded at least 13 people -- most of them current or former Navy SEALs -- through his San Diego money-lending business and used the money for personal expenses.

Most of the money hasn't been recovered.

Authorities say Mullaney at one time had a downtown loft and several luxury cars but was homeless when he was arrested earlier this year.

Female military members sue to fight

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Four female military service members have filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday and is the second such federal challenge filed by female service members this year.

The latest demands the lifting of the military's so-called combat exclusionary policy that applies to all women.

The lawsuit alleges the ban on a single gender violates constitutional equal protection rights and unfairly blocks women from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat.

Further, the lawsuit alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units.

Two of the four women who filed the lawsuit have received Purple Heart medals for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. The women are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Court won't get into fight over grape patents

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a California table grape organization over a lawsuit seeking to invalidate several government table grape patents.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the California Table Grape Commission, which is fighting to keep in place patents on Sweet Scarlet, Autumn King and Scarlet Royal varieties of table grapes.

Delano Farms Co. and other farms say the patents are invalid, and won a lower court decision that would allow them to go to court to fight their case. The commission wants that case thrown out, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed.

The case now goes back to the lower courts.

Judge bows out of 'pink slime' suit

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- A federal judge has recused himself from presiding over a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC because his daughter-in-law works as a producer on one of the network's morning shows.

Judge Lawrence L. Piersol recused himself from hearing the defamation lawsuit filed by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. against ABC because his daughter-in-law works as a producer on “Good Morning America.”

The case has been reassigned to Chief Judge Karen Schreier.

Beef Products Inc. sued ABC in September over its coverage of a meat product called lean, finely textured beef. Critics have dubbed the product “pink slime.” The meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe.

Tennessee courthouses receive threats

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Bomb threats forced the evacuation of 24 courthouses across Tennessee Tuesday morning, including the federal building in Memphis, but authorities who are investigating said no devices were found.

Tennessee became the fourth state to deal with similar bomb hoaxes. One targeted 28 courthouses in Oregon and similar threats were reported in Nebraska and Washington this month.

Seven threats were in West Tennessee, four in Middle Tennessee and 13 in East Tennessee, said state Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt. No bombs have been found.

Dalya Qualls, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said no arrests have been made and the agency is assisting local law enforcement to investigate.

Heidt said the threats were made by telephone to court clerk offices. “It's been going on all morning,” said Heidt.

The federal building in Memphis houses the federal court and offices for the Department of Justice, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. It was cleared around 9 a.m. for a couple of hours while authorities checked it.

Police temporarily blocked a trolley line that ran by the federal building in Memphis and brought in a dog to search the building before letting people return around 11 a.m.

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