Federal Gun Indictment for New Black Panther Members, Including "Minister of Justice"

Categories: News

Danny Wicentowski
In this August 14 photo, Olajuwon Ali, left, helps direct traffic during a celebratory protest in Ferguson. Ali, whose legal name is Olajuwon Davis, was indicted last week on weapons charges.
Two men connected to the St. Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party were indicted Wednesday on weapons charges and arrested Friday morning.

Between November 1 and November 13, Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis allegedly lied on forms submitted during a gun purchase at the Cabela's sporting goods in Hazelwood; According to a federal indictment, Baldwin had claimed to be buying two Hi-Point .45 ACP pistols for himself when he was actually acting as a straw purchaser for someone else. The indictment doesn't identify the intended recipient of the handguns.

Citing an anonymous police source, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that a months-long investigation uncovered Baldwin and Davis' plans to acquire weapons, "to do harm to law enforcement and the public." Yet other news media, including Reuters and ABC, cite their own anonymous sources to report that the FBI arrested Baldwin and Davis for allegedly planning pipe bomb attacks to take place during future Ferguson protests. KMOV also mentions the alleged pipe bomb plot, but its report doesn't make an explicit connection to Baldwin and Davis.

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Charles Manson and His St. Louis-Area Bride Apply For Marriage License

Categories: News

Charles Manson, the groom-to-be.
Cue the wedding bells and chill the Champagne. Charles Manson is getting married.

Afton Elaine Burton is the 80-year-old mass murderer's fiancee, as Daily RFT reported a year ago. Burton, a 26-year-old Susan Atkins look-alike who now goes by the name Star, grew up 40 miles north of St. Louis in Bunker Hill, Illinois, where her parents and two brothers still live.

The killer couple hasn't set a date yet, but Kings County has issued them a marriage license, according to the Associated Press. A prison wedding coordinator is organizing the ceremony, which will be in an inmate visiting room at California's Corcoran State Prison. The couple is allowed to invite ten non-inmate guests.

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Sharon Carpenter Misspent $130,000+ from Recorder of Deeds Office: Audit

Categories: News, Politics

Sharon Carpenter is hoping St. Louisans reelects her to Recorder of Deeds on November 4.
Former Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter misspent $130,274.08 of city funds between July, 1 2010 and and June 30, 2014, according to a draft version of an audit conducted by the St. Louis Comptroller's Office.

The expenses included reimbursements to employees for restaurant, travel and hotel bills during conventions, as well as picking up the tab at meetings with vendors. According to the audit, which was acquired by Daily RFT through a Sunshine Request, Carpenter payed for those items by tapping the Technology and Archival Account, a fund whose usage is restricted under state statute to "record storage, microfilming, and preservation, including anything necessarily thereto."

Notably, the draft of the audit makes no mention of the nepotism allegations that led to Carpenter's resignation in July, or the fact that Carpenter -- who was first appointed to recorder in 1980 -- withdrew roughly $12,000 from the Technology and Archival Account to pay her great-nephew's intern salary and parking costs.

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Recorder of Deeds Whistle Blower: Campaigns are Failing St. Louis Voters

Categories: News, Politics

Steve Truesdell
After 34 years heading the Recorder of Deeds Office, Sharon Carpenter was an untouchable power broker and pillar of St. Louis' old guard politicians. Now she wants her old job back.
It's that time again -- campaign season has peaked and democracy lovers everywhere are prepping their voting muscles for tomorrow's election.

Yet while national pundits fret over which party will control Congress, the election in St. Louis has it's own wild drama, centered on a little-known office that, until recently, never made headlines -- the Recorder of Deeds. Sharon Carpenter, a Democrat, headed the office since 1980, but she resigned in July after admitting she'd violated Missouri's nepotism statute by hiring her great nephew. Now she's campaigning to get her job back.

Carpenter's downfall was arguably engineered by Marie Ceselski, a nearly 20-year employee in the Recorder of Deeds office and an unapologetic whistle blower. It was Ceselski who first leaked evidence of Carpenter's shenanigans to political opponents, official auditors and the media. Since Carpenter's resignation, Ceselski, a 7th Ward Committeewoman, has continued to air Carpenter's dirty laundry on her blog, The Great State of St. Louis.

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Missouri Supreme Court Disbars Attorney Tied to Chuck Norman Estate, Real Estate Scam

Categories: News

Image: 3D Judges Gavel by Chris Potter (2012) / / CC BY 2.0

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday disbarred Lisa Krempasky, an attorney caught up in a massive real estate scam that cost St. Louis investors tens of millions of dollars.

Last year Krempasky agreed to give up her law license for three years following an investigation by the Secretary of State's Office that found she misled financial backers caught up in the scheme. The St. Louis attorney has since appealed to the court to shorten those sanctions to one year. But in disbarring her this week, the Supreme Court in effect lengthened the penalty against her by two years. (Disbarment in Missouri lasts for five years.)

"The court finds that [Krempasky] is guilty of professional misconduct and should be disciplined," wrote Chief Justice Mary Russell in an order handed down October 28.

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Greene County Sheriff Candidate Beats Felony Charge Filed by Current Sheriff

Categories: News

Courtesy of Luke Lamb
Luke Lamb (left), a "constitutional sheriff's candidate," beat a jury-tampering charge last week and is back on the campaign trail.
Luke Lamb has reason to be wary of juries. A candidate for sheriff in Greene County, Illinois (about 60 miles north of St. Louis), he was charged in March with unlawful communication with a juror -- a felony -- after posting a few giddy Facebook comments to a friend who had been selected for jury duty.

Last week, however, it was a jury that saved Lamb's political career. After a two-day trial, twelve jurors unanimously voted not guilty on October 23. That means Lamb can restart his political campaign against the cop who cited him with jury tampering -- current Greene County sheriff, Robert McMillen.

"It felt amazing to be free," says Lamb, who was forced to put his campaign on hold for months while his lawyer fought the felony charge. Now, it's all election, all the time. He's leaving fliers on doors, shaking hands, erecting lawn signs shaped like paper Liberty Bells and delivering speeches from the back of a pickup trucks. He's got a lot of ground to cover before the November 4 election.

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Here's the Agreement that Ended the Occupation of Saint Louis University

Danny Wicentowski
Hundreds of protesters swarmed the Saint Louis University campus last week, demanding action. It seems the university's president listened.
The sit-in dubbed Occupy SLU ended quietly this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, not a tent could be found near the clock tower where protesters massed during the early morning hours of October 13, waving upside-down American flags, raising fists in the air and calling to Saint Louis University students -- "Out of the dorms, into the streets!"

The movement to occupy the private, Jesuit institution kicked off last week's "Moral Monday," and by that day's end more than 50 people had been arrested in a series of protest events around St. Louis. On October 18 protesters and school officials agreed to end the sit-in. In a written statement, SLU president Fred Pestello attributed the end Occupy SLU to "many intense hours of outreach and conversation" with protesters and other community activists.

However, it seems that those intense conversations yielded more than just a broadly worded statement from SLU's president. Shortly after protesters left the campus, a photo of a printed agreement between the school and three protest groups began circulating on social media and right-wing blogs.

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15 People Who Can't Believe How Cheap Gas is in St. Louis Right Now

Categories: News

Phillip Leara on Flickr
The gas prices are as small as the Amoco sign is large.
If you've filled your car up with gas recently, you may have noticed that prices have been amazingly low recently.

Gas prices dropped to an average of $2.70 per gallon Monday, the lowest point since 2010. Gas prices typically dip as summer ends, but throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and around the country, drivers have been finding finding prices at less than $3 per gallon for weeks.

Experts say a slowdown in China and domestic production here in the U.S. is to thank. When the U.S. produces more oil locally and China pulls back on how much it is consuming, the supply of gas on the international market opens up, driving prices down, Isaac Arnsdorf of Bloomberg News tells PBS.

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Engineers Will Rappel 630-Foot Gateway Arch This Week to Collect Stain Samples

Categories: News

Mitch Ryals
Engineers removed windows and opened the hatch at the top of the Arch Tuesday to prepare for "industrial rope access" to take stain samples.
Engineers plan to descend the north leg of the Gateway Arch Thursday, weather permitting, to take samples of stains on the exterior of the monument. The excursion will be one of the few times since the Arch was completed in 1965 that anyone has climbed (with permission) on the Arch's exterior.

A crew of engineers began installing an anemometer (which measures wind gusts) and the system of ropes Tuesday that will anchor two individuals as they descend the Arch's north leg. The ropes will exit through the hatch at the apex of the 630-foot-tall Arch and loop through each of the windows along the north side.

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Protesters Occupy Saint Louis University, Promise Further Civil Disobedience After Shaw Shooting

Categories: Ferguson, News

Photos by Danny Wicentowski
On Monday morning, hundreds poured into Saint Louis University's Frost Campus to stage a sit-in and to protest police brutality.
Acts of civil disobedience took center stage in St. Louis this weekend, as youth organizers wrangled local activists and out-of-state visitors in town for "Ferguson October." The event has drawn thousands to St. Louis to publicly oppose police brutality.

"We're here to destroy systemic racism and white supremacy!" shouted one organizer at the crowd surrounding the clock tower in Saint Louis University's midtown campus around 2 a.m. Monday morning. Most of the group had marched from a rally in the Shaw neighborhood, the scene of last week's police shooting that left eighteen-year-old Vonderitt Myers dead.

Myers' death ignited a new round of protests over law enforcement's treatment of young black men, and organizers tell Daily RFT that the shooting, along with an influx of activists from all over the county, laid the perfect groundwork for so-called "direct action."

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