National News

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter allegedly stole $16 million from Dodgers star: DOJ

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter allegedly stole $16 million from Dodgers star: DOJ

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES, Calif.) -- The former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani now faces federal charges over allegations he stole millions from MLB's highest-paid player in a gambling scheme, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Ippei Mizuhara has been charged with bank fraud for allegedly stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani to "finance his voracious appetite for illegal sports betting," United States Attorney Martin Estrada said during a press briefing.

Estrada claimed Mizuhara committed fraud on a "massive scale" to "plunder" Ohtani's bank account to pay for his gambling debts.

Mizuhara had helped Ohtani, who did not speak or understand English, set up his bank account in 2018 in Arizona and "used that familiarity" to later steal the funds from Ohtani to help pay for illegal sports bets, the DOJ alleged. He is accused of wiring more than $16 million in unauthorized transfers from Ohtani's checking account from November 2021 to January 2024, the DOJ said. He is also accused of impersonating Ohtani over the phone with the bank to approve wire transfers to the bookmakers, the DOJ said.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday afternoon that Mizuhara is expected to self-surrender to federal authorities on Friday. He will likely make his initial court appearance sometime after 5 p.m. ET at federal court in Downtown Los Angeles. Mizuhara will not be asked to enter a plea, the officials said, and he will appear and likely be released on bond.

Estrada stressed that Ohtani is considered a victim in the case and has cooperated "fully and completely" in the investigation.

"There is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Ohtani authorized the over $16 million of transfers from his account to the bookmakers," Estrada said.

Any winnings were deposited in Mizuhara's own personal bank account, not any account owned by Ohtani, and the ex-interpreter allegedly admitted to a bookmaker to stealing from Ohtani, according to Estrada. Ohtani also provided his cellphone to investigators, who did not find any evidence to suggest that he was aware of or involved in the illegal gambling activity, the DOJ said.

"Our investigation has revealed that due to the position of trust that he occupied with Mr. Ohtani, Mr. Mizuhara had unique access to Mr. Ohtani's finances," Estrada said. "Mr. Mizuhara used and abused that position of trust in order to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani."

Bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, Estrada said.

The federal investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles offices of IRS Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations, the main investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Dodgers announced they had fired the Japanese interpreter on March 20, after the gambling controversy surfaced. The team did not provide a specific reason for Mizuhara's termination.

Ohtani addressed the scandal for the first time on March 25 during a press conference. In a prepared statement, Ohtani said through an interpreter, "I am very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this."

"I never bet on baseball or any other sports," Ohtani continued. "I never asked somebody to do that on my behalf and I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports."

The 29-year-old pitching and hitting star, who signed a $700 million deal in the offseason to join the Dodgers, claimed he did not know about Mizuhara's gambling until after a Dodgers game in Korea the prior week.

"Up until a couple days ago, I didn't even know that this was happening," he said at the time.

Mizuhara had worked with the Dodgers as Ohtani's interpreter after serving in the same capacity with the Angels. Ohtani and Mizuhara's relationship dates back to 2013, when Ohtani played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League and Mizuhara was an interpreter for the team.

Ohtani has been playing for the Dodgers throughout the scandal, batting .333 with three home runs and eight RBIs for National League-leading Los Angeles. He is not pitching this season as he recovers from elbow surgery.

MLB announced it was investigating the situation last month, two days after the Dodgers fired Mizuhara.

ABC News' Alex Stone contributed to this report.

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O.J. Simpson, former football star acquitted of murder, dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, former football star acquitted of murder, dies at 76

Richard Stagg/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- (NEW YORK) -- O.J. Simpson, the former football great who was accused of and ultimately acquitted of the brutal 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend, has died, according to his family. He was 76.

"On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace," a statement from his family said.

 


In May 2023, Simpson posted a video on X, then known as Twitter, revealing that he had recently "caught cancer" and "had to do the whole chemo thing." He added, "It looks like I beat it." Simpson didn't specify the nature of the cancer.

Then in February 2024, a Las Vegas television station reported that Simpson, then 76, was again undergoing treatment for an unspecified cancer. Simpson himself posted a video on X that day, denying rumors that he was in hospice care, though he did not otherwise confirm or deny reports that he was ill. Two days later in another video update on X, Simpson thanked those people he said had reached out to him, adding "My health is good. I mean, obviously I'm dealing with some issues but I think I'm just about over it."

Simpson, nicknamed "The Juice," broke records as a college and professional football player, and extended his celebrity and fortune as a sportscaster, a movie and television actor, and as a corporate spokesman, most notably for Hertz rental cars.

All that changed on June 12, 1994, when Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were brutally stabbed to death outside of the former's home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Within days, police announced their intention to arrest the former football star for the murders.

Five days after the killings, 95 million Americans watched as Simpson's white Ford Bronco – with longtime friend Al Cowlings at the wheel and Simpson in the back seat with a handgun, threatening to kill himself – led police on a 60-mile, low-speed televised chase through Los Angeles that lasted some two hours.

Simpson ultimately surrendered to police and stood trial for the murders. In October 1995, after 11 months from jury selection to verdict, Simpson was acquitted in a trial that was televised daily and became an international sensation.

Twelve years later, Simpson was arrested in September 2007 after he led a group of men into a Las Vegas hotel and casino to steal, at gunpoint, what he claims was his own sports memorabilia. Simpson was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. The following year, he was found guilty and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison. Simpson was released on parole on Oct. 1, 2017.

O.J. Simpson is survived by four children: Arnelle and Jason, from his first marriage, and Sydney and Justin, from his marriage to Nicole Brown Simpson.

Kato Kaelin, a houseguest of Simpson's at the time of the murder who became a key witness during the trial, expressed his condolences Thursday to Simpson's children and his "love and compassion" to the families of Brown Simpson and Goldman.

"Nicole was a beacon of light that burned bright. May we never forget her," he said in a video statement posted on X.

A football hero

Simpson was born on July 9, 1947, and raised in Potrero Hill, a low-income neighborhood near San Francisco. His mother, Eunice, worked as an orderly at a psychiatric ward, and his father, Jimmy Lee, worked as a cook and custodian in a private club. When Simpson was just a toddler, his father left the family, leaving Simpson's mother to raise and support their four children on her own.

Despite being bow-legged and pigeon-toed from a bout with rickets in infancy, according to ESPN, Simpson developed a strong interest in sports as a child. In the spring of 1967, he enrolled at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and that same year he married his high school sweetheart, Marguerite Whitley, with whom he eventually had three children.

Playing for USC as a running back, Simpson soon became college football's leading rusher. By the time he left the school, he had set 13 college football records and had won the 1968 Heisman Trophy.

The charismatic young star athlete's television career took off like a rocket. On the night he won the Heisman, Simpson signed a television contract with ABC Sports. The following year, Simpson was the first pick in the 1969 draft, signing with the Buffalo Bills for a then-record $650,000, five-year contract. By 1973, Simpson had scored an NFL-record 23 touchdowns in a season. He also set the most rushing yards in a single game, with 250, and broke the record for the most rushing yards in a season, with 2,003.

Simpson's football prowess made him a star off the field as well. In 1975, Hertz signed Simpson as the first Black man hired for a major national corporate advertising campaign, with soon-familiar commercials of him, smiling and clad in business suit, running through airports and leaping over obstacles to get to his rental car. The success of the ad campaign led other corporations to sign endorsement contracts with Simpson, increasing both his wealth and name recognition.

The Buffalo Bills traded Simpson to the San Francisco 49ers prior to the 1978 season, prompting him to move with his family to the West Coast, though after two seasons with the team, physical problems prompted Simpson to retire from pro football as the highest-paid player in the NFL.

Simpson had acted during his pro football years, notably appearing in the TV miniseries "Roots," as well as the films "The Towering Inferno," "Capricorn One" and others. Around the same time he retired from the NFL, he created his own production company and dove into the entertainment business full time. He continued acting, including as a regular in the "Naked Gun" film comedy series, and also served as a TV football commentator.

Meeting Nicole Brown

While still married to Marguerite, Simpson met Nicole Brown, then 18, while she worked as a nightclub waitress in Beverly Hills in 1977. It was the same year Simpson and Marguerite celebrated the arrival of their daughter, Aaren, and moved into a Tudor-style mansion in the Brentwood neighborhood of LA. Two years later, tragedy struck when Aaren died in the swimming pool at the family home. Around that same time, Simpson and Marguerite finalized their divorce, and Nicole Brown moved in.

Simpson and Brown were wed in 1985, a union that produced two children. However, the marriage was marred by accusations of Simpson's physical abuse of his wife. Simpson was arrested in 1989 for beating her as he reportedly threatened to kill her. He pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to probation, counseling and community service. Though the couple attempted to reconcile, Nicole Brown Simpson filed for divorce, which was finalized in 1992.

'Trial of the Century'

On the night of June 12, 1994, after Brown Simpson and her family dined at one of their favorite Los Angeles restaurants, Mezzaluna, she returned to her condominium on Bundy Drive in LA's Brentwood neighborhood, according to court records. Later that night, Ron Goldman, 25, a waiter at Mezzaluna, drove from the restaurant to Brown Simpson's home to return eyeglasses her mother had left at the restaurant that night.

Around midnight, Brown Simpson and Goldman's bodies were found stabbed to death outside of her home.

Simpson was in Los Angeles that evening, according to court records, but took a late flight that night to Chicago. When he returned to Los Angeles the next day, he was interviewed by police but was not immediately arrested.

Five days after the murders, on June 17, 1994, prosecutors ordered Simpson to surrender to be charged with Brown Simpson and Goldman's deaths. He instead fled in the Ford Bronco with Cowlings, leading police on a slow-speed chase lasting some two hours that brought Southern California freeways to a standstill and was televised live, watched by an estimated 95 million Americans.

News helicopters hovered overhead, documenting the chase, and Angelinos raced from their homes and gathered along area highways and on overpasses to watch the extraordinary drama unfold in real time. Simpson eventually surrendered and was taken into custody. During his arraignment, he pleaded "Absolutely, positively, 100 percent not guilty" to all charges.

Simpson's 1995 televised trial, dubbed the "trial of the century," was an international sensation, with the private lives of the participants – including witnesses, attorneys and the presiding judge – as much news as the trial itself, which sparked controversy and racial tensions from the time the jury was empaneled in November 1994, to the October 1995 reading of the verdict.

Defense attorneys claimed Simpson had been wrongly accused of the murders, but prosecutors argued that Simpson was a controlling husband who abused Brown Simpson. Prosecutors also presented blood from the crime scene found in Simpson's car and home, and the fact that he went unaccounted for more than an hour on the night of the murders.

One of the most memorable moments of the trial came when prosecutors asked Simpson to try on a pair of black leather gloves in front of the jury and an international television audience. One glove had been discovered at the crime scene and the second had been found at Simpson's home. The gloves didn't appear to fit properly, which the prosecution later attributed to shrinkage from their original size caused by their having been soaked in blood. Regardless, when Simpson struggled to don the gloves, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran issued the trial's most memorable declaration during his closing argument: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

An unprecedented 150 million people watched on Oct. 3, 1995, as the verdict was read and Simpson was acquitted of the murders. Following his acquittal, Simpson publicly vowed to spend the rest of his life searching for what he called the "real" killer or killers.

Despite the acquittal, Simpson soon found himself shunned in many of his previous social circles. His longtime agents dropped him and many corporations no longer wanted his endorsement. Simpson's credibility and earning power disintegrated virtually overnight. By 2000, Simpson had moved from Los Angeles to Miami, Florida.

Though he was acquitted of criminal charges, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman filed a civil suit against Simpson – the former for battery, and the latter for battery and wrongful death. Unlike the criminal trial, no cameras were allowed in court during the civil trial, which lasted just over three months and ended in February 1997 with the jury unanimously finding Simpson liable as alleged.

Simpson was ordered to pay a total of $21 million to the Goldman family and $12.5 million to the Brown family, for a total of $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Despite years of efforts, the families were only able to collect from Simpson a fraction of the damages the jury awarded.

In 2006, a ghostwritten book titled "If I Did It," described by the publisher as a "hypothetical" confession and said to be based on interviews with Simpson, was scheduled to be published in conjunction with a TV special that would also feature Simpson. The special was cancelled following widespread criticism, and the family of Ron Goldman – still pursuing the unpaid monetary damages awarded them in Simpson's civil trial – was awarded the rights to the book, which they retitled and published as "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer."

Kim and Fred Goldman released a statement on Thursday, reading: "The news of Ron’s killer passing away is a mixed bag of complicated emotions and reminds us that the journey through grief is not linear. For three decades we tirelessly pursued justice for Ron and Nicole, and despite a civil judgment and his confession in If I Did It, the hope for true accountability has ended."

It continued: "We will continue to advocate for the rights of all victims and survivors, ensuring our voices are heard both within and beyond the courtroom. And despite his death, the mission continues; there's always more to be done. Thank you for keeping our family, and most importantly Ron, in your hearts for the last 30 years."

Conviction for robbery and kidnapping

The night of Sept. 13, 2007, Simpson led a group of men – one of whom was armed with a handgun – into a Las Vegas hotel room to recover what Simpson claimed was sports memorabilia that had been stolen from him. He was arrested three days later and charged with 12 felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. After a trial that lasted less than a month, Simpson was found guilty of all charges on Oct. 3, 2008 – 13 years to the day after he was acquitted in his Los Angeles double murder trial.

"Earlier in this case, at a bail hearing, I ... said to Mr. Simpson [that] I didn't know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both," Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass said during sentencing the following December. "During the trial and through this proceeding, I got this answer – and it was both."

Simpson was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

A free man

In July 2017, Simpson was granted parole. Simpson sought to reassure the parole board that he would be successful in meeting the conditions of his parole.

"I'm not a guy who lived a criminal life," he said. "I was always a good guy, but could have been a better Christian, and my commitment to change is to be a better Christian."

"I had some problems with fidelity in my life, but I've always been a guy that pretty much got along with everybody," Simpson added.

On Oct. 1, 2017, 70-year-old Simpson walked out of Nevada's Lovelock Correctional Institute as a free man. He moved from Miami to Las Vegas and commenced a lifestyle focused on golf, friends and regular posts to social media.

In the 1994 letter Simpson's lawyers read to the nation while the former football star fled police during the Bronco chase, Simpson expressed satisfaction with the life he'd lived until that point.

"I've had a good life. I'm proud of how I lived. My mama taught me to do unto others. I treated people the way I wanted to be treated," Simpson wrote, according to his attorneys.

"Don't feel sorry for me," the letter went on. "I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. ... Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours."

Sheila Marikar and Christopher Watson also contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Buttigieg visits predominantly Black Alabama community following ABC News investigation about neighborhood flooding

Buttigieg visits predominantly Black Alabama community following ABC News investigation about neighborhood flooding

ABC News(SHILOH, Ala.) -- An unlikely visitor made his way through rural Alabama last Wednesday to visit the community of Shiloh, a place usually far from the public eye. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and two of his top officials came to Shiloh at the request of local landowners who say they've experienced frequent flooding… ... Continue Reading
School bus aide arrested after allegedly abusing children with severe autism

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Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC(ENGLEWOOD, Colo.) -- A school bus aide has been arrested by police in Englewood, Colorado, for allegedly physically abusing three children with severe autism, at least one instance of which was allegedly caught on video, according to a law firm representing the families.The three students endured "extreme physical and mental abuse" over… ... Continue Reading
Virginia ex-assistant principal charged a year after 6-year-old shot his teacher

Virginia ex-assistant principal charged a year after 6-year-old shot his teacher

Jay Paul/Getty Images

(NEWPORT NEWS, VA.) -- The former assistant principal of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, where a 6-year-old shot his teacher in January 2023, has been indicted for child abuse, according to court documents.

Ebony Parker is charged with eight counts of felony child abuse with disregard for life for the shooting, which left first grade teacher Abby Zwerner with life-threatening injuries.

Parker resigned from her position shortly after the shooting and has not made any public comments on it since.


Parker was indicted in March, but the documents were unsealed Tuesday. Parker was released from jail on bond Wednesday morning at 2:36 a.m., according to the Newport News Sheriff's Office.

Zwerner is suing Newport News Public Schools for $40 million, accusing administrators of negligence that allegedly allowed the shooting to take place.


Zwerner's lawyers pointed to the charges against Parker as another sign of the school district's failings.

"These charges are very serious and underscore the failure of the school district to act to prevent the tragic shooting of Abby Zwerner," attorneys Diane Toscano, Kevin Biniazan and Jeffrey Breit said in a statement. "The school board continues to deny their responsibility to Abby, and this indictment is just another brick in the wall of mounting failures and gross negligence in their case."

Parker is accused of disregarding at least three teachers' warnings that the 6-year-old might be carrying a gun, telling them he "has small pockets," suggesting he wouldn't be able to conceal a weapon, according to the lawsuit.

Just an hour before the shooting, a school counselor asked Parker to check if the boy had a gun, but she declined to do so, the lawsuit alleges.

In a report released Wednesday, the special grand jury investigating the case said there were eight bullets in the gun. The child allegedly tried to fire a second time, but the gun jammed.


Parker is charged with eight counts -- "one count for each of the eight bullets that endangered all the students in Ms. Abigal Zwerner's first grade classroom," the Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said in a press release Wednesday.

In a press conference Thursday, Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn thanked the grand jurors for their work on the report, which he called "incredibly thorough" and "brutally honest."

"They were ordinary citizens who took on an extraordinary task and did an amazing job," he said.

Gwynn said he hopes the grand jury report helps the victims in the case -- not just Zwerner, but all the children who were traumatized as well -- feel heard.

"We hear you," he said. "We feel your pain, we see your trauma, we pray for you and we pray for your children."


According to the report, questions remain about the whereabouts of the boy's disciplinary records after the shooting. There should have been two sets of physical records -- one in the main office, and one in Zwerner's classroom -- but police who executed a search warrant did not find the documents in either place, according to the report.

"Every other students file was in both locations," the report states. "The child's was the only file that was in neither location."

Police asked about the missing files, after which another school administrator returned the main office file, which had been in either her home or car, the report states.

The second file, which should have been in Zwerner's classroom, was never found, according to the report.

Though the grand jury has concluded, the investigation into the shooting continues, Gwynn said in the press conference Thursday. He did not say whether any other school officials would face charges.


Zwerner's attorneys said in a press conference conference Thursday that "serious questions need to be answered" about the missing documents, which they said they learned of from the grand jury report.

“If the citizen panel believes this may have been a coverup -- which is their words -- I have no reason to doubt them," Toscano said.

After the release of the grand jury report, Zwerner's lawyers released a new statement, saying, "The grand jury report reveals a systemic failure that led to the shooting of Abby Zwerner. Most shocking is the apparent cover up of disciplinary records before and after the shooting. We are grateful for the work of the special grand jury and the answers they have provided this community."

An attorney representing Parker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Richmond, Virginia, ABC affiliate WVEC was unable to reach Parker for comment at an address listed as her home in court records.

The 6-year-old's mother, Deja Taylor, was sentenced in November to 21 months in federal prison on firearm and drug charges. She was also sentenced in December to two years in state prison for child neglect associated with the shooting.

Zwerner said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression and still has nightmares about the incident.

"One of the big moments for me that stays in my head, more so than some other moments, is the look on the student's face when he pulled out the firearm," Zwerner said. "It's a haunting look."

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85-year-old Idaho woman hailed as 'hero' in fatal shooting of home invasion suspect

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OJ Simpson dead at 76: A timeline of his life and sensational trial

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Six shot, including two children, in Washington, DC; suspect vehicle sought: Police

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DC Police Department

(WASHINGTON) -- One person was killed and five others injured, including two children, after gunmen opened fire in a residential area of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, police said.

A suspect vehicle is being sought in connection with the shooting, police said.

The incident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. ET in the Carver Langston neighborhood in Northeast D.C., on the 1100 block of 21st Street, NE, police said.

Based on preliminary information, the suspects exited a vehicle and "began shooting into the crowd" outside, Metropolitan Police Chief Pamela Smith told reporters.

One man was killed in the shooting, Smith said. Two men, one woman and a 9-year-old boy were transferred to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, she said.

A 12-year-old boy also arrived at a local hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound from the shooting, Smith said.

Police said they are searching for a light blue Toyota sedan "possibly occupied with two shooters inside" in connection with the incident.

"This is another example ... of violence that we cannot, we just cannot accept in our communities," Smith said, calling it a "senseless act" of gun violence.

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Man charged for allegedly detonating device outside Alabama attorney general's office

Man charged for allegedly detonating device outside Alabama attorney general's office

U.S. Department of Justice

(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities have arrested a man accused of detonating an explosive device outside the office of the Alabama attorney general in late February.

Kyle Calvert, 26, of Irondale, Alabama, was arrested Wednesday on charges of malicious use of an explosive and possession of an unregistered destructive device, according to the Department of Justice.

The device was set off on Feb. 24 at approximately 3:42 a.m. outside the Montgomery office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, authorities said. No one was injured and the contents of the exploded device were only discovered by staffers from the attorney general's office when they arrived at work the next morning, authorities said.

Agents who recovered the exploded materials determined the device came in a coffee container-like vessel and was packed with gasoline, a mortar, firecrackers and nails "to increase its destructive capability," according to court filings.

The FBI pulled surveillance footage from around the area that showed the subject placing stickers around Montgomery before planting the explosive device, according to court filings. One of the stickers read "Support your local antifa" while others included phrases such as "EAT THE RICH," "FEMINIST ACTION" and "ABOLISH ICE," according to the filings.

Investigators later tracked down Calvert through a vehicle the subject was seen in prior to and after the incident, according to the filings. They also compared surveillance footage of Calvert from a prior employer to the footage of the subject captured at the scene and saw both had a similar "unique gait," the filings stated. Calvert also posted a photo to social media wearing goggles that were "identical" to ones worn by the subject who detonated the explosives, according to the filings.

Calvert allegedly posted about his "violent impulses" and his frustrations with the government on social media, according to the filings. "How the f--- are we not killing the government right now!" Calvert reportedly said in a video posted on Dec. 12, 2023, according to the filings.

Investigators also spoke to a more recent employer of Calvert, who reported he was exhibiting "strange behavior" at work, according to the filings.

Calvert was taken into custody on Wednesday following a grand jury indictment. He will be represented by a federal defender though online records do not list the name of an attorney. ABC News left a message with the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Alabama.

If convicted, Calvert faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to the DOJ.

A possible motive has not been released.

"Thanks to the work of the FBI and our state and local law enforcement partners, this defendant is being held accountable for allegedly detonating an explosive device outside of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "The Justice Department has no tolerance for acts of violence targeting those who serve the public."

The Alabama attorney general expressed relief at news of the arrest.

"Although more information will be provided in the weeks to come, I think it is safe to say that this was not a random act of violence," Marshall said in a statement. "We are grateful to our federal and local partners for their assistance in this matter and are pleased that the offender faces federal charges carrying significant prison time."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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6 former Mississippi police officers sentenced on state charges in torture of Black men

6 former Mississippi police officers sentenced on state charges in torture of Black men

WAPT

(BRANDON, Miss.) -- Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers were sentenced to decades in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to state charges related to the racially motivated torture, sexual assault and shooting of two Black men in January 2023 and their subsequent actions to cover up their crimes.

The group of officers, all white, includes five former Rankin County sheriff's deputies -- Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke -- as well as former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. The sheriff's deputies had dubbed themselves the "Goon Squad" for their willingness to use excessive force, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Finch, the six former officers pleaded guilty in a Rankin County Circuit Court on Aug. 14, 2023, to aggravated assault, home invasion, obstruction of justice/hindering prosecution in the first degree and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice.

McAlpin, Middleton and Opdyke were each sentenced Wednesday to 15 years, according to the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, while Elward and Dedmon were sentenced to 20 years and Hartfield to 10 years.

The judge did not follow the recommendation of prosecutors, giving each of the defendants longer sentences than what was recommended by the state, according to Jackson ABC affiliate WAPT.

In their guilty pleas, the six former officers admitted to breaking into a home where Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker were residing without a warrant after a white neighbor reported that the men were staying with a white woman and alleged "suspicious" activity. They then proceeded to arrest Jenkins and Parker "without probable cause" that they committed any crimes, according to the DOJ.

During the incident, the officers beat Jenkins and Parker, mocked them with racial slurs, sexually assaulted them with a sex toy, forced them to strip naked and shower together and shocked them with Tasers for roughly 90 minutes while handcuffed, according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Jenkins was also shot in the mouth by Elward, per the DOJ.

Parker, accompanied by his attorneys and local NAACP leaders, spoke to reporters outside the courtroom after the sentencing on Wednesday morning and thanked those who supported the victims.

"Ya'll gave us the strength. I appreciate all of ya'll. Today, Rankin County made a believer out of me, made a believer out of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people," Parker said. "So I'm just thankful now that I'm here to see it. And I'm glad, you know, Michael is here to see it with me."

"I'm appreciative of my lawyers fighting for us ... all our family man, they've been riding with us. It's been, it's been up and down and up and down. It's still up and down," he added. "Still a roller coaster man, we're gonna go ride this thing out."


Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement on Wednesday following the sentencing that the officers "violated the trust of all the citizens they swore to protect."

"These former officers also violated the trust of the other men and women who honorably wear the uniform - every one of whom will feel the repercussions of the mistrust they sowed between law enforcement and the people. These criminal acts make a difficult job even harder and far more dangerous. And it is left to us all to commit ourselves to repairing that damage," Fitch added.

The state sentencing comes after all six officers pleaded guilty to 16 felony charges related to this case in federal court last August and received federal prison sentences ranging from 10 to 40 years in March.

They will serve the federal and the state sentences concurrently.

"The depravity of the crimes committed by these defendants cannot be overstated, and they will now spend between 10 and 40 years in prison for their heinous attack on citizens they had sworn to protect," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on March 21.

"Officers who violate constitutional rights will be held accountable by the Justice Department for their crimes that harm individual victims and betray the trust of entire communities," he added.

Following the incident, the two victims faced false charges for months, according to the DOJ, stemming from the officers' plan to cover up their actions by tampering with and planting evidence, including drugs and a gun.

Attorneys for Jenkins and Parker, along with NAACP leaders, continued to call for the resignation of Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey when they spoke out after the sentencing on Wednesday.

"Bryan Bailey is ultimately responsible for all of the actions of the Goon Squad because they -- he -- should have been doing his job. He should have been monitoring his department," Malik Shabazz, the lead attorney representing the victims, said.

ABC News has reached out to Bailey for comment.

Following the federal sentencing last month, Bailey said in a statement to WAPT that "Violations of established rules and regulations will not be tolerated by this department, and anyone who violates the law will be brought to justice."

"As the duly elected and acting Sheriff of Rankin County, I will remain committed to the betterment of this county and this sheriff's department moving forward," he added. "Together with the honest, hard-working men and women currently with this department, we will strive daily to make this community a safer and more secure place to live for everyone."

The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the incident in February 2023, along with the FBI, amid outrage from the community and as attorneys for Jenkins and Parker filed a notice of claim for a $400 million federal lawsuit.

When asked about the status of the lawsuit, Shabazz told ABC News in March that the lawsuit is still in court and they are "fighting."

In an October 2023 response to the complaint obtained by ABC News, the officers denied the allegations alleged in the lawsuit.

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UPS worker shot dead in targeted attack while leaving work, police say

UPS worker shot dead in targeted attack while leaving work, police say

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(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Police in Birmingham, Alabama, are searching for the gunman who shot and killed a UPS worker in a targeted attack, authorities said.

The shooting unfolded at about 6:05 p.m. Tuesday as UPS driver Anthony Lamar Love Jr. walked to his car at a Birmingham UPS facility after his shift ended, Birmingham police Sgt. Laquitta Wade said.

Love was confronted by a gunman who fired about 10 shots and then fled the scene, Wade said.

No one is in custody, Wade said.

A UPS spokesperson said in a statement, "We are saddened by the loss of our driver and extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and coworkers. We are cooperating with the authorities as they continue investigating this tragic incident."

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Schools close in Louisiana as severe weather, tornadoes threaten South

Schools close in Louisiana as severe weather, tornadoes threaten South

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(NEW YORK) -- A large storm system is bringing a threat of strong tornadoes, damaging winds and hail to the South on Wednesday, with the severe weather forecast to stretch from Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama to Florida.

A life-threatening flash flood emergency has been issued in New Orleans.

More than 170,000 customers are without power in Louisiana Wednesday morning and many schools across the state are closed.

In Yazoo County, Mississippi, just north of Jackson, the sheriff's office is urging residents of one subdivision to evacuate immediately.

"The levee is about to break on the lake and the houses will flood," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "Please get out ASAP!!!"

A tornado watch has been issued in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, including the cities of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson.

"Intense tornadoes" are possible and wind gusts up to 80 mph are likely, the National Weather Service said.

The dangerous storms will stretch across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama through Wednesday evening.

​The storm already dumped up to 15 inches of rain in east Texas overnight, with the flash flooding submerging cars and buildings underwater.

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