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all in the family

7/24/14 7:30pm

Grandma-Grandson Duo Busted For Running Drug Ring

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Drug kingpin. Photo via

A Connecticut grandmother and grandson have been spending plenty of quality time together over the last few months, but it was unfortunately in the form of running a drug ring out of their home.

Elaine Coffey, 65, and her grandson Nicholas Coffey, 24, were charged with possession of heroin with the intent to sell, narcotics possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police received calls from concerned neighbors in the town of Plainfield over “an abundance of short-term traffic” near their home over the last month, while other callers reported that Nicholas was selling drugs inside the house.

Undercover investigators eventually picked up drugs from him and a second woman, 34-year-old Jody Read, inside of his car before making the arrest. She was also charged with identical offenses. Bond was set at $20,000 for all three offenders.

However, Elaine is hardly the oldest drug-dealing grandma in recent years. Eighty-year-old Roza Shusterman was arrested in 2002 for selling prescription drugs out of her home in Brooklyn, NY. She pleaded guilty in January 2013 to felony drug sales of prescription pills and a misdemeanor drug possession charge before dying from heart failure one month later.

In 2012, Darlene Mayes, 73, earned the sobriquet “Ganja Grandma” after it was found that she was responsible for a drug ring that distributed 40% of the marijuana around the city of Tulsa, Okla. Police raided her home in April 2012 and found four pounds of pot, $276,000 in cash, and two weapons. She also admitted to having several dealers work for her, including her son, Jerry, who was arrested on drug charges.

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By McCarton Ackerman

up in smoke

7/24/14 5:30pm

Tobacco Company Ordered to Pay $23.6 Billion in Damages to Smoker’s Widow

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Last Friday, a Florida jury awarded $23.6 billion in punitive damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer, which are to be paid by tobacco company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The punitive damages are the largest of any individual case stemming from the original class action lawsuit, according to Cynthia Robinson’s attorneys. The damages were awarded in addition to $16.8 million in compensatory damages to Robinson after a four-week trial.

“The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,” said Christopher Chestnut, one of Robinson’s attorneys.

Robinson had individually sued the tobacco company in 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. The lawsuit’s objective was to stop tobacco companies from targeting youth with their advertising, according to Willie Gary, another one of Robinson’s attorneys.

“If we don’t get a dime, that’s OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives,” Gary said.

But Reynolds won’t go down without a fight. The company’s vice president and assistant general counsel Jeffery Raborn called the damages awarded to Robinson “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law” and said Reynolds is planning to file post-trial motions with the trial court.

“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Raborn said.

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By Victoria Kim

drugs on time?

7/24/14 3:30pm

FedEx Indicted for Delivering Illegal Prescription Drugs

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Last week, Federal Express was indicted on federal charges alleging that the shipping giant knowingly distributed prescription drugs on behalf of two Internet companies closed down by state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The indictment, handed down by a grand jury in San Francisco, named FedEx Corp and two subsidiaries as conspirators with two separate Internet pharmacies, the Chhabra-Smoley Organization and Superior Drugs, in distributing pharmaceuticals and other controlled substances, including Valium, Ambien, and Xanax, to customers with “no legitimate medical need” for the drugs.

From 2000 to 2010, FedEx allegedly delivered to customers in vacant lots and abandoned homes, even to individuals who stopped delivery trucks en route to their destinations. Complaints from couriers who expressed concern for their safety in delivering these packages led FedEx to change their procedure by holding pharmacy packages at pickup stations, rather than routing them for delivery.

The indictment alleges that FedEx continued to distribute prescription drugs to customers after owners, operators, and medical professionals associated with by Chhabra-Smoley—a company overseen at one time by Robert Smoley, the former mayor of North Bay Village, Fla.—and Superior Drugs had been indicted, arrested and convicted of illegally distributing drugs.

FedEx issued a statement regarding the indictment that indicated that it “will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees,” and countered the accusations by stating that repeated requests to the U.S. government for a list of illegal online pharmacies has been ignored.

If convicted, the corporate defendants face a maximum sentence of five years probation, $2.5 million in fines or a financial penalty equal to double the profits earned by the illegal shipments, which is estimated at $820 million.

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By Paul Gaita

now we know

7/24/14 1:00pm

Hillary Clinton Blames Bill's Mom For His Sex Addiction, New Book Claims

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According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lucinda Franks, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said that she blamed Bill Clinton's abusive mother for his unfaithfulness and sex addiction.

The revelation came about as part of Franks' new memoir, Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me, which is scheduled for release in August 2014. Though the book doesn't have much to do with the Clintons as a whole, there is a section of never reported information stemming from a 1999 interview between Franks and Clinton.

The interview was conducted at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, where Franks claimed that the former First Lady told her that Bill had been abused as a child. “He was abused. When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever,” Franks claimed Clinton said.

However, Clinton never revealed to Franks what type of abuse Bill suffered as a child. “I am not going into it, but I’ll say that when this happens in children, it scars you,” Clinton told Franks. “You keep looking in all the wrong places for the parent who abused you.”

Writing forTalk magazine at the time she spoke to Clinton, Franks declined to publish the quote due to the unrelenting media frenzy surrounding the Lewinsky affair. She did, however, publish the ongoing problems Bill had with his mother and grandmother, and quoted Clinton as experiencing "enormous pain, enormous anger" over her husband's infidelity.

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By Shawn Dwyer

beer bears

7/24/14 10:30am

Bear Breaks Into Florida Home to Steal Beer

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In one of the more bizarre stories to recently go viral, a small, but still frightening bear broke into the pool deck of a Central Florida home Tuesday night searching for beer for the second time in a week. While the bear left empty-pawed in this second raid, the first time around it emptied the mini-fridge, and bit holes in beers and cocktail mixers to get at the drink inside.

After the first raid, homeowner Lisa had a camera at the ready lest the beer-hungry bear stuck again. Her preparedness paid off as the bear came back and went straight to the beer mini-fridge. But the bear then saw her taking photos from behind her clear sliding door, it became distracted from its booze run and slapped at the glass with its paw.

The bear refused to leave and, according to Lisa, "banged on the glass, then looked her in the eye, as if to say, 'I'm here, and I'm not leaving.'" She shut off the lights and left in fear the bear would hit the glass harder if she stayed. While bear sightings are not uncommon in Lake Mary, FL, one who demonstrated persistence in scrounging for booze made Lisa fear the worst.

Later, she returned to find the bear had left, but this time did not take anything from the fridge. It is unknown why the bear didn't take the drinks the second time.

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By Bryan Le

royal pain

7/24/14 8:30am

Queen Elizabeth's Racehorse Tests Positive For Drugs

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A racehorse owned by Queen Elizabeth II named Estimate has recently tested positive for a banned substance. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the five-year-old mare came up positive for morphine, the result of which was likely due to a contaminated feed product.

"Five horses, under the care of various trainers, were affected. I can confirm that one of those horses was Estimate," said John Warren, racing adviser to Queen Elizabeth. "Initial indications are that the positive test resulted from the consumption of a contaminated feed product."

"A positive result is 99.99% of the time due to a feed contamination," said trainer and veterinarian Jim Boyle in an interview on Radio 5. "Morphine comes from the opium poppy. There have been studies done whereby ingestion of a poppy-seed bagel or a poppy-seed cake can cause a urine sample, 16 to 24 hours later, to test positive for morphine."

Last week, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) revealed that five horses had tested positive for the drug and that they were conducting a full investigation into the matter. Warren noted that Sir Michael was "working closely with the feed company" to uncover which products were contaminated and was continuing to offer "his full co-operation" with the BHA.

In 2013, Estimate made international news when it became the first racehorse owned by a reigning monarch to win the Gold Cup in the race's entire 207-year history. Though that win will likely stand, Estimate's recent second place finish in the Cup last month could be in jeopardy.

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By Shawn Dwyer

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