Jeri Wright was charged with two counts of money laundering, two counts of making false statements to federal officers, and seven counts of giving false testimony to a grand jury.
By Mary Wisniewski, Reuters
CHICAGO -- The daughter of President Barack Obama's controversial former pastor was indicted on Wednesday on charges of money laundering and lying to federal authorities, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.
Jeri L. Wright, 47, the daughter of Jeremiah Wright, was accused of participating in a fraud scheme led by a former suburban police chief and the chief's husband that involved a $1.25 million state grant, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield.
Wright, of the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest, was charged with two counts of money laundering, two counts of making false statements to federal officers, and seven counts of giving false testimony to a grand jury.
The state grant was for a not-for-profit work and education program called We Are Our Brother's Keeper, owned by Regina Evans, former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband, Ronald W. Evans Jr.
According to the indictment, Wright, a close friend of the couple, received three checks in 2009 worth about $28,000 that were supposed to be for work related to the grant. About $20,000 of that was allegedly deposited back into accounts controlled by the Evanses.
Jeremiah Wright was the Chicago pastor whose inflammatory church sermons, which often condemned U.S. attitudes on race, poverty, the Iraq War and other issues, became a focus during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama quieted the controversy with a speech putting the quotes in the context of race relations.
The money laundering count Jeri Wright faces carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, while the other charges carry penalties of up to five years in prison.
Jeri Wright could not be reached for comment. Prosecutor's office spokeswoman Sharon Paul did not know if she had yet retained a lawyer.
Joann Goulet LePage is accused of giving her 14-year-old daughter margaritas during dinner.
A 51-year-old mom from East Hampton, Conn., has been arrested after allegedly giving her daughter multiple margaritas to the point where she became sick during dinner last month.
Middletown police went to 200 Main St. at 7:21 p.m. on Feb. 27 to investigate a report of an intoxicated female and found a 14-year-old girl who appeared to be drunk and her mother, Joann Goulet LePage, 51, of East Hampton, police said.
As police spoke with the mom and daughter, the teen said her mother gave her several alcoholic beverages as they were having meals, police said.
Police said a witness also reported seeing LePage giving the teen several margaritas, police said.
On the other hand, Tommy Jordan, angry dad from North Carolina, became an overnight Internet folk hero for meting out gunslinging justice to his rebellious 15-year-old, who had recently posted a disrespectful update on her Facebook page. On Thursday night, he posted the act of discipline on his daughter's Facebook wall, and on YouTube. By Monday morning, a stunning 21.4 million people had watched it -- far more than watch an episode of “American Idol”or even NBC's “Today” show. We’ll hear Jordan’s reaction to his viral sensation -- and whether he’d change anything about the incident -- in a moment.
Jordan has also used his newfound fame to publicly endorse a website in which he has a financial interest, a classified-ad service called Another Man's Junk. He's encouraged visitors to donate money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and says he's helped raise $5,000. And, he's monetized some of that YouTube traffic by adding an advertisement at the beginning of the now famous video.
"To those who are pissed because the copyright statements are on the video and it's been monetized.... well, I've got to pay for the attorney's somehow. Get over it," he wrote on his Facebook wall on Saturday.
He needs lawyers because Jordan's opened a Pandora's Box with his video. There is a small army of imitators making parodies, and Jordon expressed fear that some parent may carry gun-wielding discipline too far, and he might get blamed. He's also instructed lawyers to protect his copyrights and threatened to sue others who repost his video without attribution. He's facing some Internet-style harassment himself -- someone posted a good bit of personal information about him on a website.
He was also visited by the police and Child Protective Services during the weekend.
"Of course they came. They received enough ‘Oh my god he's going to kill his daughter’ comments that they had to," he wrote. He made light of the visits, however. The police congratulated him, he said, and one officer added that he planned to use the video in presentations he does for the school system.
The social worker interviewed Jordan and his daughter separately and was satisfied, Jordan wrote.
"At the end of the day, no I'm not losing my kids, no one's in danger of being ripped from our home that I know of, and I actually got to spend some time with the nice lady and learn some cool parenting tips that I didn't know," he wrote.
Despite the surprising notoriety, Jordan said he'd do it all over again in a statement designed to answer questions posed by reporters. (He’s so far not responded to msnbc.com’s request for an interview.)
“If I had it to do again... let's see... I'd do it almost the same," he wrote on his Facebook page in a note addressed to Anita Li of the Toronto Star. He wouldn't be smoking in the video, he said, then added, "I'd have worn my Silverbelly Stetson, not my Tilley hat, if I'd known that image was going to follow me the rest of my life and I'd probably have cleaned my boots. That's it."
More of his response:
"To answer 'Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook' my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner.”
Did the video have the intended effect?
"I think it was very effective on one front. She apparently didn’t remember being talked to about previous incidents, nor did she seem to remember the effects of having it taken away, nor did the eventual long-term grounding seem to get through to her. ...This time, she won’t ever forget and it’ll be a long time before she has an opportunity to post on Facebook again. I feel pretty certain that every day from then to now, whenever one of her friends mentions Facebook, she’ll remember it and wish she hadn’t done what she did.”
Jordan said he and his daughter have talked about the video and reached a "semi-truce," and that when he showed his daughter the comments that Internet users left on the YouTube page, she was "astounded."
"People were telling her she was going to commit suicide, commit a gun-related crime, become a drug addict, drop out of school, get pregnant on purpose, and become a stripper because she’s too emotionally damaged now to be a productive member of society. Apparently stripper was the job-choice of most of the commenters. Her response was 'Dude … it’s only a computer. I mean, yeah I’m mad but pfft.' She actually asked me to post a comment on one of the threads (and I did) asking what other job fields the victims of laptop-homicide were eligible for because she wasn’t too keen on the stripping thing.”
And on the biggest lesson learned through the incident:
"She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings."
Rescue crews continue to search for a 6-year-old Oregon girl that has been missing since Sunday, when she fell into the icy Clackamas River. KGW-TV's Mark Hanrahan reports.
By msnbc.com staff and news services
ESTACADA, Ore. -- An Oregon man raced along the rain-swollen Clackamas River but couldn't keep up with his 6-year-old daughter who had fallen into the stream and was swept downriver, authorities said.
Rescue workers searched without success Monday for Vinesa Snegur, who fell Sunday into the river, running fast and cold from a recent winter storm.
The Clackamas County sheriff's office said the search would resume Tuesday.
"It was just a second of inattention," sheriff's Sgt. James Rhodes said of the little girl's fall, explaining that her father turned away, "then splash, and she fell in. He ran and tried to keep up with her, but he was unable to."
Rhodes said the girl and her parents, Igor and Marina Snegur, are from southeast Portland and drove Sunday to play in the snow. They parked near Austin Hot Springs in the Mount Hood National Forest where a road is close to the stream.
The spot is about 60 miles southeast of Portland. There's no cell service, and the family couldn't call for help until they got to a phone at a ranger station an hour later, Rhodes said.
Rick Bowmer / AP
A member of the Multnomah County Sheriff Search and Rescue team searches along the Clackamas River for 6-year-old Vinesa Snegur on Monday.
The water temperature Monday was just above freezing, and the river is carrying a heavy load of trees and roots, imperiling rescue workers, he said.
About 50 ground searchers and divers suspended their search at nightfall Monday. A helicopter with thermal imaging equipment also was used to scan the river.
Purple jacket, pink hat Steve Duin, who joined the search and wrote about it in a column for The Oregonian, said that by noon Monday about 50 people had joined the search, including divers in the water and relatives of the child, who was wearing a purple jacket, pink hat and white pants when she fell.
"Flares have been set out on the road into Austin Hot Springs, the smoke drifting over the divers and the bridge. The black ice is long gone as I slide down the hill, but I slow each time the river comes into view, searching for a blink of purple or pink somewhere," he wrote.
The Oregonian reported that Vinesa's parents were still on the mountain "surrounded by family and trauma specialists" late on Monday.
A series of storms stretching from coast to coast brought snow and ice to the Pacific Northwest, grounded planes in Chicago and 2012's first snow to the Northeast. NBC's Bill Karins and the Weather Channel's Mike Seidel report.
At Vinesa's Mill Park Elementary School, about 140 students visited a special 21-person crisis counseling team Monday, The Oregonian reported. Barbara Kienle, students services director, said half a dozen employees, including some of Vinesa's teachers, also talked to counselors.
"She has many friends," Principal Rolando Florez told the newspaper. "There were lots of sad kids in her class today."
Like many streams in western Oregon, the Clackamas River is swollen by heavy rain that fell late last week as a winter storm moved into the region. The storm caused flooding in many communities in the Willamette Valley.