EP Energy secures plan support agreement with key creditors and commitment for significant new money investment

first_img Image: EP Energy has secured plan support agreement with key creditors. Photo: courtesy of rawpixel/Pixabay. EP Energy Corporation (“EP Energy” or the “Company”) (OTC Pink: EPEGQ) today announced that it has entered into a Backstop Commitment Agreement (the “Backstop Agreement”) and Plan Support Agreement (the “PSA”) with a number of its key creditors on the terms of a comprehensive restructuring plan (the “Plan”). The Backstop Agreement and PSA memorialize the terms of the previously disclosed agreement in principle reached on October 3, 2019, and will provide for, among other things: (1) a substantial reduction of the Company’s existing funded debt by approximately $3.3 billion, (2) a substantial reduction of the Company’s annual debt service obligations by up to $263 million, and (3) a $475 million rights offering, approximately $463 million of which is backstopped by parties holding approximately 52.0% of the Debtors’ 1.25L Notes and approximately 79.3% of the Debtors’ 1.5L Notes. In addition, the Company has entered into a commitment letter under which over 90% of the Company’s existing revolving loan lenders have committed to provide support for an approximately $629 million Senior Secured Exit Financing.President and Chief Executive Officer Russell Parker said, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with a substantial group of our key creditors on a plan that will facilitate our goal of significantly reducing our debt and enhancing our long-term competitive position. This agreement demonstrates our creditors’ confidence in our business and will enable EP Energy to work through the financial restructuring process on an expedited basis as we continue our operations without interruption. The EP Energy team remains focused on improving operational execution and capital efficiency and positioning the Company to succeed in the current operating environment. We appreciate the continued dedication of our talented team of employees, and the partnership of our royalty owners, lessors, vendors and business partners.”As previously announced, EP Energy voluntarily filed for chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. EP Energy is continuing to operate in the normal course during the financial restructuring process. Source: Company Press Release Reorganization expected to reduce company’s existing debt by approximately $3.3 billionlast_img read more

Will the footfall return? High streets to re-open on 15th June

first_imgThree weeks after being allowed to re-open for business, estate agents are soon to be joined by the rest of their neighbours on high streets, it has been announced, assuming the government’s key Coronavirus reduction tests are met.Car showrooms and outdoor market will be able to open in less than a week’s time on June 1st and all other retail outlets will be open two weeks later.But this is not a return to normality. The government says businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.They must also have taken the steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation, as estate agencies have had to do.“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” says Business Secretary and former housing minister Alok Sharma (left). “Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”But the announcement has been received with scepticism in some quarters, as it appears to have been brought forward to distract people’s attention on the Dominic Cummings debacle.His much-publicised press conference finished minutes before the retail revival announcement was made.“The timing of the announcement that non-essential shops can potentially open from 15 June feels deeply orchestrated given ‘Durhamgate’,” says Jack Izzard, director of business recovery campaign organisation The Great British Bounce Back.“While the news that shops can open from mid-June is a massive boost on the surface, the reality is that retailers have had their entire business models dynamited overnight and that this is largely a symbolic announcement.” jack izzard The Great British Bounce Back Dominic cummings coronavirus Alok Sharma May 26, 2020Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » COVID-19 news » Will the footfall return? High streets to re-open on 15th June previous nextCOVID-19 newsWill the footfall return? High streets to re-open on 15th JuneEstate agents will hopefully not have to work alone any more on deserted high streets after Boris Johnson last night revealed all retail shops could reopen in two weeks.Nigel Lewis26th May 20200886 Viewslast_img read more

USA: Lockheed Martin Signs USD 100 Million Aegis CSEA Contract

first_img View post tag: Defense View post tag: Navy View post tag: CSEA The U.S. Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a 5-year, $100 million contract to provide combat system engineering services – including the design, development, integration, test and life cycle support – for all Aegis-equipped ships.Lockheed Martin has partnered with the Navy for decades as the Aegis combat system engineering agent (CSEA), while evolving the system through nine technology baselines to outpace a wide array of dynamic and evolving threats.“This program award validates Lockheed Martin as the Navy’s choice for combat management systems,” said Dale P. Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training. “Our team met the Navy’s challenge to reduce costs and drive innovation into Aegis CSEA by increasing productivity, utilizing automated testing and analysis and increasing the role of small businesses.”Aegis is the world’s premier combat system and is the foundation for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense capability. Aegis-equipped ships are multi-mission surface combatants that can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines and surface ships while automatically implementing defenses to protect the fleet against aircraft and missiles.Aegis is also the combat system of choice for the navies of Australia, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Spain. More than one hundred Aegis-equipped ships are in service around the globe. They have more than 1,200 years of at-sea operational experience and have launched more than 3,800 missiles in tests and real-world operations.Lockheed Martin is a leader in combat systems integration and the development of integrated air and missile defense systems and technologies. The company makes significant contributions to most major U.S. missile defense systems and participates in several global missile defense partnerships.Lockheed Martin developed its CSEA offering with its partners Mission Solutions Engineering, General Dynamics Advanced Information System and Integrated Defense Technologies.Lockheed Martin will perform the CSEA work at its Moorestown, N.J. facility.Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.[mappress]Naval Today Staff, March 6, 2013; Image: Lockheed Martin View post tag: million Back to overview,Home naval-today USA: Lockheed Martin Signs USD 100 Million Aegis CSEA Contract View post tag: Naval Equipment & technology USA: Lockheed Martin Signs USD 100 Million Aegis CSEA Contract View post tag: 100 Share this articlecenter_img March 6, 2013 View post tag: Martin View post tag: contract View post tag: Defence View post tag: Aegis View post tag: News by topic View post tag: Signs View post tag: USD View post tag: Lockheedlast_img read more

Winter Weather Advisory for listening area in effect Friday morning

first_imgIndianaLocalMichiganNewsWeather Previous articlePresident Trump gives governors plan to reopen economy, Gov. Holcomb looking at early MayNext articleMan takes off after vehicle vs train crash in South Bend Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Winter Weather Advisory for listening area in effect Friday morning Google+ By Jon Zimney – April 17, 2020 0 217 Twitter Facebook WhatsApp (Photo supplied/ABC 57) (Tom Coomes/ABC 57 Meteorologist) A burst of snow between 4 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Friday, April 17, will bring a widespread three inches of snow to much of Michiana, with localized higher amounts between Plymouth and Fort Wayne.This wet spring snow will be at it’s heaviest around 8 a.m. and then transition to a rain/snow mix after 10 a.m.The snow will mostly accumulate on grass and bare ground but roads may also be coated for a shorter period of time.Snow gradually melts through Friday afternoon.The weekend is fair and milder in the mid to lower 50s….WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM TO 2 PMEDT FRIDAY…* WHAT…Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches.* WHERE…Portions of northern Indiana and northwest Ohio.* WHEN…From 5 AM to 2 PM EDT Friday.* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute.* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Snow will develop late tonight and persist into Friday morning. The snow may be heavy at times, especially north of Route 24. Most of the snow accumulation is expected from roughly 6 AM to 12 PM EDT Friday. Rain may mix with the snow south of Route 24, potentially limiting snow amounts.PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…Slow down and use caution while traveling.Friday: AM snow/mix, mostly cloudy. High 40.Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 52.Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 50. Pinterest Twitter Google+ Pinterest WhatsApp Facebooklast_img read more

News story: NHS-funded nursing care rate announced for 2019 to 2020

first_imgThe NHS-funded nursing care standard weekly rate per patient will increase by 4.7% from the current rate of £158.16 to £165.56 for the 2019 to 2020 financial year.The higher rate of NHS-funded nursing care will also increase by 4.7% from the current rate of £217.59 to £227.77 per week for 2019 to 2020. This is only relevant for people who were already on the higher rate in 2007 when the single band was introduced.Registered nursing care is funded by the NHS for eligible nursing home residents. These rates are based on an independent study of the costs of providing nursing care, undertaken by LaingBuisson.The findings of the study have been combined with a 3.1% efficiency expectation of nursing home providers, and an expectation that no more than 10% of nursing hours are delivered by agency nurses.last_img read more

Public Enemy Announces Free Show In Brooklyn For Next Week

first_imgInfluential and political hip hop group Public Enemy will perform a free concert in Brooklyn next week. Part of SummerStage, a concert series that brings free live music to public parks throughout New York City, P.E. will perform in Betsy Head Park in the infamous Brownsville neighborhood on Tuesday, June 21st. Brownsville is known for its high concentration of public housing, and it has some of the highest levels of gang activity and violence in the city. This is a unique opportunity to see a culturally important band performing in front of the oppressed peoples that they represent.To get hyped for Public Enemy’s return to Brooklyn, check out their induction to the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame from 2013, with a full speech by director and friend Spike Lee, and a high-energy performance by the band.This may be the only opportunity to see Public Enemy for a while, as frontman Chuck D. will be spending plenty of time on the road with newly formed supergroup Prophets of Rage. Check out full details for their tour here.last_img read more

Moreau fellows adjust to life on Notre Dame campus

first_imgSekou Remy said he feels like a freshman again on campus, even though he has a Ph.D. Remy, one of the 11 inaugural fellows of the Moreau Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, said he is still learning his way around campus since his, and the other fellow’s, arrival on Aug. 1. “I like what I’ve seen,” he said. “There are really cool things around. It’s a really nice campus and nice people.” Remy is from Trinidad and Tobago and works in the field of robotics. On campus, he is working with the computer science and engineering department and also collaborates with faculty in the aerospace and mechanical engineering department. “I’m not teaching this semester, but next semester I’ll be teaching a class called ‘Assisted Robotics,’” he said. “I hope it will be a fun class. All the other professors said it sounds fun and that they want to take it.” Susan Ohmer, assistant provost and co-director of the program, said she is thrilled with the fellows selected for the first year of the program, especially as the committee is now preparing for the second year’s candidates. “When I think about them, I am bursting with pride,” she said. “They are fantastic in their fields and I’m really proud of them.” The deadline for applicants for next year’s slots is Nov. 1, and Ohmer said she noticed a few changes from last year. There are around 100 applications in so far, compared to the 300 applications they had last year, she said. However, she said she is not worried because the number could double in a week’s time. She said there is also a possibility of selecting fewer than 11 applicants. “The word is out there,” she said. “There’s quite a buzz about it and it’s popular. We have a number of international applicants.” Ohmer said they won’t be making any major changes to the program because it has been successful as is. The program was designed to help celebrate diversity in all venues of life, not just diversity of racial background or culture. In fields of study, seven of the fellows work in the College of Arts and Letters, while four work in science and engineering. With funding help from the President’s Office, several deans and the Lilly Foundation, the program was a success, she said. “We work with the idea of diversity,” Ohmer said. “The way these fellows exemplify diversity is either from underrepresented groups or their research focuses on diversity. We have some women from fields with few women in them.” Remy said he can apply diversity to his field of study — though not many attempt to do so. “One of the things about engineering is that there are not many ways the traditional [societal] views of diversity fit in, like skin color and culture difference,” he said. “It works in different ways. It can manifest itself with how familiar you are with different ways to solve a problem.  I also embody diversity by having attended both Catholic and secular schools, attended engineering and non-engineering schools.  In my work I can see similar problems across various disciplines.” Anne Garcia-Romero, another Moreau fellow and working in the Film, Television and Theatre Department, said her ideas on diversity stem from her cultural background. Born from a Spanish father and an American mother, Garcia-Romero works as a playwright and a theatre professor. “I write about diversity in my plays,” she said. “In my playwriting, I address how Latin and American cultures collide.” Part of Garcia-Romero’s fellowship is to write a new play. She said she is focusing on Martin Ramirez, an artist, and her play will be structured around his life and work. She is also working on a book about Latina playwrights. “[The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center] is a phenomenal facility,” she said. “The whole thing is incredibly impressive. The facility just blows everyone else out of the water.” The fellowship has offered her a chance to practice her craft and teach, she said. The fellows are required to teach one course a semester while working in their fields of study. “As a scholar-artist, I was keenly interested in working in an institution which championed research excellence, intellectual rigor and artistic achievement and Notre Dame clearly offered all of this and more,” Garcia-Romero said. “As a bi-cultural Latina, I was encouraged by Notre Dame’s commitment to cultural diversity. As a Catholic, I was also really interested in the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about issues connected to education in the Catholic tradition.” Remy’s only complaint is he is hoping to discover more unique and interesting campus events. “I get the sense there is so much more to experience,” he said. “Like the midnight drum circle — that’s not in the orientation. I look forward to experiencing things like that.”last_img read more

The Virginia Creeper Trail: the most scenic bike ride on the east coast?

first_imgStart in downtown Abingdon, VA, for a leisurely ride through rolling farmland. Along this section of the trail, it’s not uncommon to see grazing horses and cows. Some might even come right up to the fence to say hello!  The “lower” section also features the most stunning trestle bridges, and easy access to Abingdon Vineyards, a farm winery located along the South Holston River. Don’t feel like biking back to Abingdon? Schedule a shuttle pick up at any of several points along the way. The Virginia Creeper Trail is one of the most accessible trails you’ll find, with plenty of outfitters, lodging and dining nearby. It’s equally popular with beginners and advanced riders; multiple entry points mean that you can enjoy an easy 2-hour ride, or challenge yourself with an all-day, 68-mile round trip. Although biking is popular with visitors, don’t forget that hiking and horseback riding are also permitted. Alternately,take a shuttle to Whitetop Station in Jefferson National Forest, to bike the“upper” section.   Then enjoy an easy 17-mile coast/pedal downthe mountain to Damascus, VA. Following the route of an old railroad bed, the Virginia Creeper Trail is named for the steam engine that once chugged along it and for the Virginia Creeper vine that populates the area. With the abandonment of many railroads in the 1970s, a national movement gained momentum to convert train tracks into trails. A coalition of local citizens, government and the US Forest Service banded together to acquire the old railroad right-of-way, and thus the Creeper Trail was born in 1987. Forty-seventrestle bridges provide scenic views of the region’s creeks, farmland, and mountainforests. While technically considered a mountain biking trail, the VirginiaCreeper is well-maintained and consists mostly of crushed stone, so it can beeasily navigated on a hybrid or road bike. The 34-mile multi-use trail begins in Abingdon, a popular access pointat Mile Marker 0, and then carries on through rolling farmland to Damascus atMile 15.5. From there, the Virginia Creeper winds up to its highest point atWhitetop Station, winding through Appalachian hardwoods and alongside coldmountain streams filled with native brook trout.  After the trail, round out your trip with a stop at Wolf Hills Brewing in Abingdon, or make it a long weekend with a show at Barter Theatre, and live music at Bonefire Smoke House and Musictorium. Abingdon is a foodie destination, recently named Best Small Town Food Scene in the country by USA Today Travel.  This ridetakes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on your pace. Stops along the wayinclude the old railroad station at Green Cove, operated by the US ForestService; check out the high trestle at Creek Junction, where the trail runsbeside some of the best trout fishing in Virginia. last_img read more

According to the Children’s Commission: Children deserve independent representation

first_imgAccording to the Children’s Commission: According to the Children’s Commission: Children deserve independent representation February 1, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular Newscenter_img Children deserve independent representation Associate EditorWhat kind of representation do children deserve? Lawyers, guardians ad litem, a combination? And what kinds of cases should trigger mandatory representation so that children no longer get lost in the court system without a voice?Just three months ago, those contentious issues had sharply divided members of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children’s Representation Subcommittee, comprised of a feisty cross-section that includes a public defender, social worker and head of a large guardian ad litem program, legal aid lawyer, family law attorneys, and judges.But at the Bar Midyear Meeting in Miami, on January 11, that divide was bridged by a compromise unanimously passed by the full commission. The commission met only three days after the Senate Judiciary Committee also debated how to better provide legal representation for children in court.“Everyone’s major concerns were addressed. It is a compromise. We cut the baby in half,” said a relieved and smiling Carlos Martinez, chair of the Representation Subcommittee and an assistant public defender in the 11th Judicial Circuit.One of their recommendations is to create a statewide Office of the Children’s Advocate that would fall under the oversight and budget of the Justice Administration Commission, as are the public defender and state attorney offices. The idea is to better assure independence by avoiding the conflict of interest when the very judge who appoints a guardian ad litem or legal counsel for the child also supervises those court personnel.That idea is similar to a proposal for an Office of Public Advocacy spelled out in a 47-page report of an interim project of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up a reworded committee bill on January 23, after this News went to press.Commission Chair and 11th Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan praised the Representation Subcommittee for its recommendations, saying, “A tremendous amount of work went a long, long way to meld everyone’s interests on behalf of the representation of children.”(The commission continues its work in reaching consensus on the Treatment and Services Subcommittee and the Confidentiality Subcommittee.)Bar President Terry Russell told the commission: “We’re so proud of you. You’re probably doing the most important work The Florida Bar is doing today.. . . I can’t think of anything that is more important than trying to get our arms around and understand the legal, physical, and emotional needs of our children and where and how we can better serve them as lawyers and as a profession. Probably more than any time in Florida history that I can recall, the legal system, the judiciary, and the profession are under such steady and determined attack. To be able to proudly hold up the work of this commission is a great accomplishment for us all.” Independent Representation One factor driving the issue of legal representation of children is a funding shift with constitutional Amendment 7, passed by voters in 1998, that mandates the state pick up a larger portion of trial courts’ expenses. The Florida Supreme Court has said the Guardian Ad Litem Program, which uses 4,500 volunteers to help carry out its duties statewide, needs to be moved from the trial courts to somewhere else, but it hasn’t taken a position on where that new home should be.Unlike the original Senate proposal, however, the Bar’s position is to keep the public defender as it is now — representing children in delinquency cases. But the recommendations encourage better communication with other lawyers or guardians representing the child who may also be involved in other court proceedings to make sure there aren’t conflicting court orders or unnecessary duplication of services.“The Senate bill does things we’re talking about,” said Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson. “The Senate Judiciary Committee has concerns of the conflict of putting the guardian ad litem and legal counsel in the same organization. Putting everything under one umbrella is turning into a nightmare.. . . The court shouldn’t appoint and have control of who the attorney is.”Joni Goodman, director of the 11th Circuit’s Guardian Ad Litem Program, said: “We thought if the Office of the Children’s Advocate contracts with local legal aid offices and with universities for the legal counsel function, it would address the conflict issue. If it does not, we need to address it.”The Guardian Ad Litem and Legal Counsel would be two divisions under the newly created Office of the Children’s Advocate, according to the Bar commission’s model. And Martinez stressed that the statewide office would have oversight functions, with decisions on individual cases handled separately at the circuit level.“What really is important is that there is a place where information and standards are available on a statewide basis,” said Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente. “This type of coordinated view is critical. The endorsement by this commission of a coordinated, independent entity is the most important thing.”Rather than dictating what type of representation children should have in other areas of court — including child abuse, neglect, and termination of parental rights in dependency court; adoption in family court; or when the child is a victim or witness in criminal court — the Bar commission recommends: “When appropriate, and at the court’s discretion, children should have a guardian ad litem and/or legal counsel appear and participate in court proceedings whenever their interests may be at state.”“The GAL Division shall be funded and staffed so that every child in Chapter 39 proceedings would have a guardian ad litem assigned, whether staff GAL or volunteer GAL,” the commission recommends.“The GAL Division shall also have sufficient legal staff to be present at all legal proceedings, where any other party would be represented by legal counsel, including depositions and appeals, unless the court has appointed the Legal Counsel Division or other independent legal counsel, and the court has made a finding that a GAL is unnecessary to protect the best interests of the child.”The commission recommends that children be afforded GAL and/or Legal Counsel representation in an array of proceedings, including CINS/FINS (children and families in need of services); entitlement to special education and related services; probate or inheritance where a child has a financial stake in the outcome; and permanent injunction for domestic violence where the child is the victim or the accused perpetrator.Another section of the commission subcommittee’s report lists when legal counsel shall be appointed to represent the child’s legal interest. That includes all termination of parental rights cases “unless the court determines that the legal interests of the child are otherwise being protected;” and anytime the child’s liberty interests are at stake in CINS/FINS cases.The major issue the Representation Subcommittee dealt with is lack of funding, Martinez reported to the full commission.“It hurts children and Florida loses millions of dollars a year in federal funding,” he said.The very first sentence of the Representation Subcommittee’s report states: “In order to secure the fundamental rights of children to physical and emotional well-being and safety, and to protect children’s legal interests, constitutional and statutory rights, Florida should fully fund independent advocacy that includes the availability of guardians ad litem and legal counsel for children in certain legal and administrative proceedings as recommended herein.”As Martinez told the full commission: “The main thing is funding, but let’s deal with the things we can get through, and that is the independence of the representation and developing standards” for quality representation.Thirdly, Martinez said, his subcommittee was “trying to deal with circumstances where we see gaps in Florida law where children should have representation.”The subcommittee views representation of children “as a three-legged stool: the guardian ad litem, legal counsel, and the public defender for delinquency,” Martinez said. Senate Judiciary Keeping the public defender for delinquency cases separate from the proposed Office of Public Advocacy was on the minds of several senators when the Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss its interim project on legal representation of children January 8.Sixth Judicial Circuit Public Bob Dillinger testified against lumping the services of the public defender in delinquency cases into one bureaucracy with guardians and lawyers for children in dependency and other non-criminal matters.“What’s in the best interest of the child may not be in the legal interest of the child,” Dillinger told the Senate Judiciary Committee.Dillinger offered this common example: A child is arrested for cocaine possession. The legal interest of the child is for his public defender to challenge whether the cop had the legal right to search his underage client. What is in the child’s best interest, on the other hand, is acknowledging the child is addicted to cocaine and needs treatment.The first struggle for the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Burt put it, is to decide “whether or not to create a new office when we are laying off existing employees and have no money in the budget.”Dorothy Johnson, staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reiterated the rationale for creating one Office of Public Advocacy: “Currently, there are 21 guardian ad litem offices in the state, directed by the chief judge of each circuit. There is mixed representation, with no clear, consistent supervision of those programs. Now, with children in dependency and delinquency courts, there is no clear coordination of representation in the two systems.”Furthermore, because judges supervise the employees who are representing children in court, “it puts pressure on attorneys not to disagree with the judge,” she said.Via video-conferencing from the Children First Project at Nova Southeastern University, surrounded by her law students, Chris Zawisza testified: “I think it is imperative to create such an office for representing children in dependency, family law, and other civil issues.”She agreed with the Bar committee’s position that it would be best to leave the public defender’s function in delinquency cases where it is because of the clash between the child’s right to be defended in an adversarial process vs. the best interest of the child.A central oversight agency could “encourage the greatest flexibility for circuits” to carry out representation of children that best fits their circuit’s needs.Because there is no national model, Zawisza said, there is a need for Florida to test various models to see what works best.To bolster the argument that the status quo definitely is not working in Florida, Zawisza reminded the Senate Judiciary Committee of these disturbing facts:• 10 percent of children have suffered confirmed maltreatment while in foster care, which is more than 17 times the accepted national standard. Children in foster care are five times more likely to be abused or neglected than the general population.• 42 percent of children in foster care live in facilities that exceed their capacity; and 12 percent of foster homes had 10 or more children.• Caseworkers had monthly face-to-face visits with the child in placement in only 29 percent of cases.• 14 percent of foster children have had four or more placements.• 20 percent of foster children move more than two times a year.• 57 percent of foster children are not placed with their siblings, and in only 52 percent of cases were foster children allowed to visit their siblings.• In 2000, the average length of stay for a child in foster care was more than three years — more than three times the national standard.Ultimately, she said, better representation and coordination of representation for children will save the state money, because it will help get children in permanent homes quicker. The longer children languish in foster care, she said, the more likely they are to wind up committing crimes and going to the delinquency system or needing rehabilitative services.How far lawmakers are willing to go in assuring children have a voice in court is still up for grabs.Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, said: “I personally feel that every child should have an attorney. I believe the guardian ad litem has benefits, but it doesn’t go far enough to make sure kids are protected.. . . If we’re going to fix a problem, let’s fix it. Representation for kids now is a mishmash. Let’s throw it away and rebuild it.”But Sen. Jim Sebesta, R-St. Petersburg, suggested: “Let’s look at programs that are working well and do it that way. Let’s do it correctly in the confines of a shrinking state budget.”Johnson, the Senate Judiciary staff director, said she looked at programs throughout the state and the country.“Attorneys think every child needs an attorney. And the guardians ad litem think no child needs an attorney,” Johnson said.The best compromise, she said, is to have a guardian ad litem and attorney team to represent the children.“Do we need a whole new state office to do that?” Sebesta asked.“Yes,” Johnson answered. “To address the conflict where employees stand before the court that supervise them.”After more discussion, Campbell said, “I have a feeling this committee can support the bill if it’s limited to dependency.. . . I would ask that we go forward with an eye on the dependency side.”Burt said: “Maybe we can put language in the bill that will mandate creating better coordination between the public defender and this new office.. . . Where I sense we’re at is an uncomfortable feeling creating something new, rather than reorganizing what we have.”last_img read more

5 Men Indicted in $10M LI Burglary Spree

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Law enforcement authorities arrested five men Thursday, including a now terminated NYPD detective, in connection with a sophisticated three-year burglary spree that netted approximately $10 million in stolen property and cash from more than three dozen Long Island homes and businesses, prosecutors said.The men were rounded up for their alleged role in the lucrative crime spree after federal prosecutors unsealed a four-count indictment Thursday charging the group with conspiracy and the interstate transportation of stolen property.The alleged burglars initially escaped detection by utilizing cell phone jammers and police scanners during the three-year crime wave, which occurred during 2009-2012, prosecutors said. But they also used traditional burglary tools, prosecutors said, such as blow torches, crowbars, wire cutters and sledge hammers.The men were identified as 40-year-old Nikitas Margiellos of West Babylon, 50-year-old Leonard Repka of Lindenhurst, 52-year-old Michael Figueroa of Mount Vernon, 37-year-old Victor Arias and 41-year-old Rafael Astacio, both of Copiague.Astacio, an active NYPD detective during the alleged burglaries, who NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said has since been terminated, was also charged with illegally accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database, which is maintained by the FBI.A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York declined to say how the investigation started, citing inability to comment on an investigation. But he did note that all the more than 45 burglaries all occurred on LI.“The defendants were part of a sophisticated burglary crew that victimized Long Island businesses and residents for more than three years,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Each defendant had a role to play in this band of criminals.”George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said the men “did not discriminate” when selecting victims, adding that they “used a combination of physical labor and modern technology,” during the alleged burglaries.In one example, four of the men spent three hours inside a Plainview business they allegedly broke in to on April 29, 2010 while Astacio and an unnamed coconspirator monitored police scanners and acted as lookouts, prosecutors said. The group eventually stole more than 45,000 pairs of sportswear worth approximately $3 million, prosecutors said, adding that they then transported the property across state lines and allegedly stole some sunglasses on the Internet.During another alleged burglary six months later, the crew stole approximately $2 million in cash from a plastic surgeon’s office in Nassau County, prosecutors said.Authorities fingered Margiellos as the alleged ringleader but directed their harshest criticism at Astacio. Lynch said the detective was “a police officer in name only, having sold his badge and his honor in exchange for his share of their ill-gotten gains.” Venizelos added that Astacio “betrayed his fellow law enforcement officers for a chance to line his pockets with his victims’ hard-earned money.”If convicted, Arias, Figueroa, Margiellos and Repka each face 15 years in prison, and Astacio faces 17 years.last_img read more