Ex-New Jersey prep star Kevin Olsen, brother of Panthers TE, pleads not guilty to rape charges

Former New Jersey prep star Kevin Olsen turned down a plea deal and pleaded not guilty to raping his ex-girlfriend Thursday. Olsen, a top quarterback recruit coming out of Wayne Hills High School where he was an All-American, now heads to trial in Charlotte where he faces a host of charges including three counts of second-degree rape, the Charlotte Observer reported. The brother of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will also face a forcible fondling charge and two counts of misdemeanor assault on a female, the newspaper reported. A trial date has not been scheduled. He could face 10 years in prison on each of the rape charges. Olsen, 22, who was arrested in February and then indicted in May, was booted off the football team at UNC-Charlotte. He reportedly is not enrolled in classes for the current semester. Originally a four-start recruit who signed with the University of Miami in 2013, Olsen was tossed from the Hurricanes program after a Sept. 2014 arrest for driving under the influence and possession of a fake or stolen driver's license. After a stop at a California community college, Olsen signed with UNC-Charlotte in December 2015. Olsen, who attended the brief arraignment with his parents before Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin, sat just feet away from his accuser. She sat with her family two rows behind the prosecutor's table, the Charlotte newspaper reported. The alleged rape took place at Olsen's apartment near the UNC-Charlotte campus. Assistant district attorney Kristen Northrup, who read the charges aloud during Thursday's arraignment, said that the pair had gone out drinking on the February night in question and eventually got separated. The ass't DA told the judge that Olsen threatened to kill her in a text message he sent while the two were apart that night. Northrup said the pair eventually reunited and returned to Olsen's apartment where they had an argument. During the argument he threatened to kill himself, Continue Reading

Brooklyn cop charged in fatal DWI crash pleads not guilty, has license suspended a second time

A former NYPD cop indicted for drunkenly crashing his car into innocent pedestrians, killing one, had his license suspended for a second time by a Brooklyn judge. After Nicholas Batka's attorney Michael Farkas entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf on Wednesday at his Supreme Court arraignment, Justice William Miller ordered him not to drive. Farkas alerted the judge that Batka's license was suspended after his criminal court arraignment, but the license was returned a week later after a hearing at the DMV. "The arresting officer didn't show up to the hearing, Mr. Batka did and the hearing officer at the DMV gave (the license) back," Farkas said outside of court. "There's an indictment. It's just common sense to suspend the license," said Justice Miller. Batka was allegedly drinking with two other NYPD officers on July 16 before getting behind the wheel of his SUV, which jumped a curb and killed MIT student Andrew Esquivel. Three others were injured. Witnesses said they had to prevent Batka from fleeing the scene, with one man seen on video keeping the officer’s vehicle’s door shut with Batka pinned inside. "It's outrageous that this defendant — a New York City police officer at the time — chose to get behind the wheel while drunk and caused a deadly and horrific car crash. His poor decision took the life of a promising young man and left three others with injuries they'll suffer from for life," said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. A grand jury indicted Batka with a slew of charges including vehicular manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide. If convicted, Batka faces up to 25 years in prison. Two hours after the fatal crash, Batka's blood alcohol level was .23 percent, almost three times the legal limit of .08 percent. Batka, a probationary officer assigned to the Manhattan Transit Task Force, was fired from the NYPD a few days after the incident. Continue Reading

Lance Armstrong pleads guilty to careless driving, two other charges dropped in Aspen hit-and-run case

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who hit two parked cars in Aspen, Colo., in late December and then tried to place the blame on his girlfriend to avoid negative media attention, pleaded guilty to careless driving, entering his plea via mail Friday. According to the Aspen Daily News, two other charges against Armstrong — failing to report an accident and driving too fast for conditions — were dropped as part of the plea deal and the case is considered closed. Armstrong also paid a $238.50 fine and court costs, according to the report. Police originally cited Anna Hansen, Armstrong’s girlfriend, after the Dec. 28 fender bender, but the citations were transferred to Armstrong after an investigation into the matter revealed Hansen had lied to authorities about her role in the accident. When she met with investigators Dec. 29, she told them that she had driven the Chevy Yukon SUV home from an Aspen Art Museum party Dec. 28, because Armstrong “had a little bit to drink.” Hansen said she hit the parked cars on a snowy road, but a valet at the museum event told authorities he had helped escort Armstrong to the driver’s seat of the SUV that night. Hansen later told authorities she lied because she was fearful of the negative media coverage. Hansen was not charged with filing a false report, according to the Aspen Daily News, because she eventually cooperated with police. The $238.50 fine pales in comparison to the $10 million Armstrong (and the company that owned Armstrong’s Tour de France teams, Tailwind Sports Inc.) have been ordered to pay Dallas-based insurance company SCA Promotions after an arbitration panel ruled earlier this week in a fraud dispute between the parties. Armstrong, 43, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in 2012 after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report exposed his lengthy doping past.  Continue Reading

Long Island limousine crash victims were best pals with bright futures; accused drunken driver pleads not guilty to DWI

They were eight friends with bright futures celebrating a bride-to-be — until an alleged drunken driver smashed into their limousine, killing four and devastating their Long Island communities. Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park, and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack, were leaving Vineyard 48 winery on the North Fork of Long Island when Steven Romeo rammed his red pickup truck into their stretch ride, the Southhold Town Police Department said Sunday. Steve Romeo (L), pleaded not guilty to DWI. Elizabeth Miller (R), Suffolk County assistant district attorney with the Vehicular Crimes Bureau speaks to the media on Sunday. An Instagram photo Grabina posted Saturday before the late afternoon wreck in Cutchogue showed her sipping a drink in a black dress along with the caption, “wine not.” "She was a beautiful girl. Had her whole future ahead of her," said a neighbor of the Grabina family, Jim Tampellini, 55. “It’s shocking, tragic.” The sad quartet were in the car with Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood, L.I.; Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale, Westchester County; Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket, L.I., and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn, who were all treated at local hospitals and survived, police said. Amy Grabina (L), 23, posted this photo to Instagram on the day of the tragic crash. Joelle Dimonte (R), 25, of Ellwood was among four people injured in the accident.  The bride, who was not identified, was among the survivors, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Miller said. “They were doing the right thing,” said a man who identified himself as the stepdad of Arundel, referring to the decision to hire a limo. The group had planned to tour distilleries and vineyards in Continue Reading

‘Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro pleads guilty to impaired driving

“Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro pleaded guilty to driving while impaired as he apologized to a Manhattan judge Monday for getting behind the wheel after three glasses of vino. Valastro, 37, briefly appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court to accept responsibility for the Nov. 13 incident in which he was busted for allegedly taking the wheel of his yellow Corvette while slightly sauced. Court papers say he was just over the legal limit of .08 when he got behind the wheel, blowing a .09 when he was administered a Breathalyzer test. The pastry king copped to a driving-while-impaired violation, which is not a crime, in exchange for a 90-day license suspension, taking a drinking-and-driving education program and paying a $300 fine stemming from a 12:30 a.m. traffic stop near the Hudson Yards. Valastro promised to never take the wheel after boozing again. “I just want to say I want to apologize to the court, the DA and the people of New York. I can't tell you how sorry I am,” Valastro told Judge Melissa Crane. “I put people in danger and I know I'm never going to do this again. I promise that,” he added. Crane had asked Valastro, whose birth name is Bartolo, what he had been sipping on before the stop. “I had some glasses of wine .. maybe three,” he admitted. Valastro continued to apologize and paint the incident as “a valuable lesson” outside the courthouse. “I'm really sorry. I made a mistake and I didn't realize that I was impaired,” Valastro said. “The fact that you realize you could have hurt someone is horrible.” “One is too many and I will never get behind the wheel of a car again if I have a drink, even if I have a sip,” he added. He continued the teaching moment on Twitter from his handle @CakeBossBuddy. “I pled guilty today because I wanted to make this right,” he wrote. “I learned an Continue Reading

Ex-Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty to all charges in 2012 murders that DA says were sparked by a spilled drink

BOSTON – It was a bump on a nightclub dance floor, a partially spilled drink and the hair-trigger temper of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez that led to the twin killings of two immigrants from Cape Verde, according to Suffolk County prosecutors. Prosecutor Patrick Haggan linked an increasingly “sensitive and angry” Hernandez to the double slayings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, two working-class cleaners living in Dorchester, in the early hours of July 16, 2012. The victims and Hernandez had never met before the chance encounter at the nightclub Cure, but Hernandez took exception to the fact that de Abreu did not apologize for bumping into him, according to Haggan. Hernandez then waited for de Abreu and his four friends to exit the club before pulling up alongside their BMW at a red light and saying, “What’s up now, [racial slur]?” Hernandez then allegedly proceeded to fire five bullets from the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver into the victims’ car, killing two and wounding a third. “These homicides were as brutal as they were senseless,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said. “[de Abreu and Furtado] were out for a good time. They had no idea this was coming.” These homicides were as brutal as they were senseless. Hernandez, 24, pleaded not guilty to both murder charges, which were handed down by a grand jury on May 15, nearly two years since the homicides were committed. Haggan requested that Hernandez, already jailed for allegedly orchestrating the murder of Odin Lloyd, a Hernandez acquaintance, on June 17, 2013, be denied bail. Presiding Clerk Magistrate Gary D. Wilson upheld the request, and did not allow Hernandez to have his handcuffs removed for the arraignment, per the recommendation of the sheriff. Hernandez’s attorney, Charles Rankin, objected to the handling of the arraignment, insisting the display was “poisoning Continue Reading

D.A.: John admitted to drinking

“My fault,” Jojo John said to first responders after the boat he had been piloting slammed into a construction barge on the Hudson River, killing two friends. “I was drinking all day.”That’s what Steve Moore, executive assistant district attorney, said John told emergency workers the night of July 26 after the crash just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.During John’s arraignment on a multi-felony indictment Wednesday, Moore said that his blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit, that there were traces of cocaine in his system and that he was speeding and driving recklessly when he crashed the 19-foot-speed boat into a barge being used in construction of the new bridge.The crash killed bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart, 30, of Piermont and her fiance’s best man, Mark Lennon, 30, of Pearl River. Stewart and Brian Bond, who was injured, were set to marry in mid-August.Also Wednesday, the families of both victims filed separate civil lawsuits seeking damages from John, the barge owners, and Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium designing and building the new $3.9 billion bridge. The court papers cite a lack of sufficient lighting as a cause of the crash after the barge owners were informed of the problem by boaters.John, 35, of Nyack, had no comment as he entered the Rockland County Courthouse Wednesday morning. Appearing before state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly, he pleaded not guilty to an 18-count indictment that includes charges of first- and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, negligent homicide and operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.Kelly said that John’s blood-alcohol level “doesn’t prove causation. That’s a fact for the jury.”The judge set bail at $25,000, citing the deaths and the seriousness of the felony charges. John, who had been free, was taken into custody, but was expected to make bail. He is due back in court Jan. 3.His lawyer, David Narain, Continue Reading

Lawyers believe if Braylon Edwards pleads not guilty to DWI, case will run past end of NFL season

If Braylon Edwards stays healthy, if Edwards is smart enough to know when to leave the bar next time, or if he is at least smart enough to never again get behind the wheel after drinking all night, here is the way lawyers I know think his case is going to play out: He will go back to court in November and plead not guilty, on his way to doing what a lot of drunk drivers have done, which means challenge the results of the Breathalyzer test that had him blowing a .16 at five in the morning. If Edwards does plead that way, the lawyers believe there is no way the case is adjudicated before the Jets' season is over. And this being the legal system in America, there is no way of knowing how the case comes out. Which means there is no official way of knowing if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will ever hand out any kind of suspension to Braylon Edwards. Even if he does, the justice on Edwards is going to be justice delayed. If he doesn't ultimately beat the rap, if he is found guilty on the DWI, he will likely get suspended at the beginning of next season. Goodell will find a way to connect this incident with the one where Edwards got probation for popping some other knucklehead outside of a Cleveland bar, and at least give him a couple of games. If Edwards is still a Jet at this point, which would mean they've decided they want the free-agent-to-be back, he will start next season suspended the way Santonio Holmes, another beauty, started this season suspended. If he's not a Jet? That means a 27-year-old free agent with priors enters the market as damaged goods. The Jets didn't originally have to give up a whole awful lot in draft choices to get him, part of their risk-reward strategy with guys who have fallen somewhat short of being Eagle Scouts in their careers. But some new team would have to decide just how much it wants to invest in a guy who gets into fights outside bars and then gets picked up for DWI. Whether he gets lawyered out of that or not. Continue Reading

She pleads not guilty in beau’s dragging death

A woman accused of dragging her boyfriend to his death after he tried to stop her from driving away from a party pleaded not guilty yesterday to manslaughter and drunken driving. Jesenia Vega, 27, was arraigned in Riverhead County Court on a grand jury indictment in the July 26 death of Louis Wiederer in Centereach. Vega, who has been held in lieu of $100,000 cash bail since her arrest, claimed through her attorney that she was being abused by Wiederer during a block party when she attempted to drive away. Wiederer, 26, was holding onto an open window on the driver's side of Vega's car when she drove off and dragged him, Suffolk County police said. Wiederer lost his grip on the 2005 Nissan and fell under it. Vega continued driving for about three blocks before stopping. Wiederer apparently was concerned that his girlfriend had been drinking too much to drive and tried to stop her, police said. Vega "revved her engine and put it into gear while he was standing there, trying to hold on. And she took him for a ride," said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco at the arraignment. "She dragged him until his death." Defense attorney Thomas Liotti contended that Vega was trying to flee from Wiederer because he had been abusive to her at the block party. None of Wiederer's relatives spoke to reporters after the arraignment. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Tiger Woods pleads guilty to reckless driving, avoids jail

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods pleaded guilty Friday to reckless driving in a deal that will keep him out of jail as long as he stays out of trouble, resolving charges from an arrest last spring in which he was found passed out in his Mercedes with prescription drugs and marijuana in his system. Woods spoke only briefly during a hearing at a Palm Beach County courthouse, answering questions from a judge about his plea agreement. Prosecutors dropped a driving under the influence charge for the superstar golfer, and the judge warned him to behave. "This particular plea agreement has no jail time on it. However, if you violate your probation in any significant way, I could revoke your probation and then I could sentence you to jail for 90 days with a fine of up to $500, is that understood?" Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo said. Woods, 41, nodded. He did not make any statement during the hearing or outside the courthouse. Woods will enter a diversion program and spend a year on probation and pay a $250 fine and court costs. He has already met some of the program's other requirements, completing 50 hours of community service at the Tiger Woods Foundation, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. Aronberg didn't say specifically what Woods did with the charitable group, but said he met the terms of the deal. Woods also attended a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged. Aronberg said most DUI offenders do not qualify for the diversion program because they have a prior record or were in an accident. About 2,500 first-time offenders have graduated from the county program since it began four years ago. "This is designed for first-time offenders, where the person made a one-time mistake and they're going to overcome it," Aronberg said. "Mr. Woods was treated like any other defendant in his situation." Since he was intoxicated with prescription drugs and marijuana, according Continue Reading