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Former George Santos fundraiser pleads guilty to wire fraud

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Washington — A former campaign fundraiser for New York Republican Rep. George Santos pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. 

Samuel Miele — who served as a fundraiser for the Republican’s campaign during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, according to court documents — also stipulated to committing access device fraud that totaled about $100,000 in losses when he appeared in federal court. 

House Considers Rep. Santos Expulsion Resolution And Censures Against Reps. Greene And Tlaib
File: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) walks back to his office after debate on the House floor on a resolution to expel him from Congress, at the U.S. Capitol November 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images


Miele was charged earlier this year after allegations surfaced that he had impersonated a high-ranking congressional aide while soliciting contributions for Santos’ campaign. The original indictment charged him with four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in an alleged fraud scheme.

The person Miele allegedly impersonated during the 2022 election cycle — labeled “Person #1” in the indictment — is believed to be the chief of staff to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, according to previous reports from CNBC, The New York Times and others.

However, in taking a plea deal on Tuesday, Miele admitted only that he had committed wire fraud, not identity theft. He previously pleaded not guilty to both.

Charging documents filed in August alleged Miele fraudulently solicited campaign funds under false pretenses for Santos’ campaign.

Miele is the second former associate of Santos’ campaign to enter a guilty plea with prosecutors. Last month, his former campaign treasurer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, admitting she had fraudulently reported hundreds of thousands in fake loans that Santos claimed to have made to his campaign.

Santos was indicted by a federal grand jury in May on seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives and one count of theft of public funds.

He pleaded not guilty to all counts and has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Miele’s attorneys had no comment and Santos’ office said it could not comment on the matter.



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Missouri Supreme Court halts release of man whose murder conviction was overturned

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The Missouri Supreme Court halted the immediate release Wednesday of a man whose murder conviction was overturned — just as the man was about to walk free.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge had ordered Christopher Dunn, now 52, to be released by 6 p.m. CDT Wednesday and threatened the prison warden with contempt if Dunn remained imprisoned. But Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey has been fighting Dunn’s release.

The situation was chaotic as the deadline set by the judge approached. Corrections Department spokesperson Karen Pojmann told The Associated Press that Dunn was out of the prison facility and waiting for a ride. His wife told the AP she was on his way to pick him up. Minutes later, Pojmann corrected herself and said that while Dunn was signing paperwork to be released, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling that put his freedom on hold.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser overturned Dunn’s murder conviction Monday, citing evidence of “actual innocence” in the 1990 killing. He ordered Dunn’s immediate release then, but Bailey appealed, and the state Department of Corrections declined to release Dunn.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore had filed a motion Wednesday urging the judge to immediately order Dunn’s freedom.

“The Attorney General cannot unilaterally decide to ignore this Court’s Order,” Gore wrote.

An attorney for the Department of Corrections told a lawyer in Gore’s office that Bailey advised the agency not to release Dunn until the appeal plays out, according to a court filing. When told it was improper to ignore a court order, the Department of Corrections attorney “responded that the Attorney General’s Office is legal counsel to the DOC and the DOC would be following the advice of counsel.”

Dunn’s attorney, Tricia Rojo Bushnell, the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, expressed her frustration.

“What is this bringing to taxpayers in Missouri? What is this use of our resources and our state’s time getting us?” she said. “All it’s doing is keeping innocent people in prison.”

Dunn’s wife said while driving to the prison that they were numb when he didn’t get out earlier this week.

“If you know a little about the story, you know we’ve had a lot of disappointments where we thought we’d finally get his freedom and it was snatched away,” Kira Dunn said. “So we were just bracing ourselves.”

Dunn’s situation is similar to what happened to Sandra Hemme.

The 64-year-old woman spent 43 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a woman in St. Joseph in 1980. A judge on June 14 cited evidence of “actual innocence” and overturned her conviction. She had been the longest held wrongly incarcerated woman known in the U.S., according to the National Innocence Project, which worked to free Hemme.

Appeals by Bailey — all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court — kept Hemme imprisoned at the Chillicothe Correctional Center. During a court hearing Friday, Judge Ryan Horsman said that if Hemme wasn’t released within hours, Bailey himself would have to appear in court with contempt of court on the table. Hemme was released later that day.

The judge also scolded Bailey’s office for calling the warden and telling prison officials not to release Hemme after he ordered her to be freed on her own recognizance.

Dunn, who is Black, was 18 in 1990 when 15-year-old Ricco Rogers was killed. Among the key evidence used to convict him of first-degree murder was testimony from two boys who were at the scene of the shooting. Both later recanted their testimony, saying they had been coerced by police and prosecutors.

At an evidentiary hearing in 2020, another judge agreed that a jury would likely find Dunn not guilty based on new evidence. But that judge, William Hickle, declined to exonerate Dunn, citing a 2016 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that only death row inmates — not those like Dunn sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — could make a “freestanding” claim of actual innocence.

A 2021 law now allows prosecutors to seek court hearings in cases with new evidence of a wrongful conviction.

Although Bailey’s office is not required to oppose such efforts, lawyers for his office said at the hearing that initial testimony from two boys at the scene who identified Dunn as the shooter was correct, even though they recanted as adults.

He also raised opposition at a hearing for Lamar Johnson, who spent 28 years in prison for murder. Another St. Louis judge ruled in February 2023 that Johnson was wrongfully convicted, and he was freed.

Another hearing begins Aug. 21 for death row inmate Marcellus Williams. Bailey’s office is opposing the challenge to Williams’ conviction, too. Timing is of the essence: Williams is scheduled to be executed Sept. 24.

Steven Puro, professor emeritus of political science at St. Louis University, said Bailey is in a highly competitive race for the attorney general position with the primary quickly approaching on Aug. 6.

“Bailey is trying to show that he is, quote, ‘tough on crime,’ which is a very important Republican conservative position,” he said. “Clearly, he’s angering members of the judicial system that he will have to argue before in the future. But he’s making the strategic notion that he needs to get his name before the voters and try to use that to win the primary election.”

Michael Wolff, a former Missouri Supreme Court judge and chief justice, agreed, saying it seems this has become political for Bailey.

“But one of the things is that no matter what your beliefs are, if a court orders something to happen, it’s not your purview to say no,” he said. “The court has to be obeyed.”



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U.S. intercepts Russian, Chinese bombers off Alaskan coast

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7/24: The Daily Report with John Dickerson


7/24: The Daily Report with John Dickerson

44:14

The U.S. military intercepted several Russian and Chinese bombers in international airspace near the coast of Alaska Wednesday.

Two Russian Tu-95s and two Chinese H-6s entered what is known as the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement Wednesday night.

The aircraft were “detected, tracked and intercepted,” NORAD said. They remained in the Alaska ADIZ and did not enter U.S. airspace.

The bombers were intercepted by U.S. F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, along with Canadian CF-18s and other support aircraft, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News.  

The official said that this marks the first time ever that Russian and Chinese aircraft have jointly entered the Alaska ADIZ, and the first time Chinese H-6s have encroached off Alaska.

While the Alaska ADIZ is considered part of international airspace, it is defined as an area where sovereign U.S. airspace ends but “that requires the ready identification of all aircraft in the interest of national security,” according to NORAD.  

The activity from the Russian and Chinese bombers was “not seen as a threat,” NORAD noted.

Tu-95 bomber
FTupolev Tu-95 bomber and missile platforms take part in a rehearsal for a 2020 Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Tverskaya Street, Russia on June 20, 2020. 

Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


In February, the U.S. detected four Russian warplanes flying in the Alaska ADIZ, as was another Russian military aircraft in May 2023.

And in February 2023, Russian warplanes were intercepted there twice in one week. And that same month, a Chinese spy balloon was detected near Alaska before eventually making its way across the continental U.S. and being shot down off the coast of South Carolina. 

Eleanor Watson contributed to this report. 



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Biden gives first Oval Office address since ending 2024 reelection bid | Special Report

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Biden gives first Oval Office address since ending 2024 reelection bid | Special Report – CBS News


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President Biden addressed the nation Wednesday for the first time since announcing he’s ending his reelection campaign and endorsing Vice President Kamala Harris for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Biden laid out his plans for the rest of his first term.

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