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Ex-Professor Who Embezzled $380,000 From University Gets Writing Assignment, Probation

Deborah Pierce was indicted for fraud charges in 2016. 

A 62-year-old former professor and college director, who embezzled more than $380,000 from Missouri’s Webster University was sentenced to probation Monday (March 12), and ordered to write in a journal. Deborah Pierce, of St. Louis, originally faced up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud, but a judge opted against putting her behind bars after asking Pierce what she thought her punishment should be, the St. Louis Dispatch reports.

U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey reprimanded Pierce for her “reprehensible” behavior, but concluded that she seemed to be “having fun and needed extra cash,” according to the Dispatch.

Pierce is the former director of Webster’s Confucius Institute, which aims to “provide the St. Louis community with opportunities to learn about Chinese language and culture.” In 2013, Pierce opened a "separate, unauthorized bank account over which she had sole control and directed the funds of the Confucius Institute through it," according to a federal indictment.

Pierce was alleged to have diverted the Institute's money into her bank account between 2013 and 2016 by "writing checks to cash, checks to herself." She used the money to pay "various personal bills and accounts and those of her family members."

Last September, Pierce pleaded guilty to transporting funds across state lines, but would only admit to stealing $180,000.

During her sentencing, Pierce reportedly cried and held onto her lawyer, when Autrey asked her if she wanted to serve the 12 months suggested by her attorney, the 18 months recommended by prosecutors, or a two-year sentence.

In the end, Autrey took mercy on Pierce. “I think it’s important for those people to know about people like you,” Autrey said, apparently noting that criminals are typically stereotyped as being “poor, from the hood, and black.”

Besides probation, Autrey gave Pierce a two-month deadline to complete a 65-page journal. She was also ordered to pay back the stolen money.

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Stephen Sisler

Cop Fired For Hiring Hitman To Kill Her Husband And Boyfriend's Kid

A New York police officer has been suspended without pay and charged with use of interstate commerce for murder for hire.

The cop in question, Valerie Cincinelli, reportedly asked her boyfriend to hire a hitman to kill her estranged husband and his own daughter. Instead, the boyfriend told the FBI about her plans.

The New York Times reports, Cincinelli was a cop for 12 years and worked in the domestic violence unit of the 106th precinct. She and her soon-to-be ex, Isaiah Carvalho Jr., were married for four years. However, in January, Carvalho filed for divorce which led to a custody battle, that seemingly came to halt months prior to their case going to court.

What 32-year-old Carvalho didn't know was by February, his estranged wife had been plotting to kill him and her boyfriend's school-age daughter.

The botched murder-for-hire plot was supposed to look like Carvalho's death was caused by a robbery gone awry, and the girl's death look like an accident after suggesting the killer run over her with a car near her school.

On Feb, 18, Cincinelli withdrew $7,000. That same day, her boyfriend withdrew $6,935 in gold coins. The two discussed the plot extensively and according to reports Cincinelli used social media to track the child. On May 13, Cincinelli met with her boyfriend to discuss the two potential murders unaware that he was wearing a wire.

“It’s your worst nightmare scenario,” said Matthew Weiss, Mr. Carvalho’s lawyer.

Local cops reportedly went to great lengths to convince Cincinelli the murders took place and appeared at her home to inform her they were investing it. Immediately afterward, she texted her boyfriend to ensure their alibis were aligned and instructed him to delete the thread.

Later that day she was taken into police custody and charged.

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Billionaire Robert F. Smith Will Pay Off Morehouse Class Of 2019's Student Loans

Billionaire Robert F. Smith has earned one of Morehouse's biggest cheers after the commencement speaker announced he'd pay off the student loans for the entire graduating Class of 2019.

"This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”

Dang! There are a lot of happy graduates at Morehouse College today.

Commencement Speaker Robert F. Smith is establishing a grant to pay off the Class of 2019's student loans. #SundayThoughts #sundaymorning pic.twitter.com/kupvjyhT9Y

— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) May 19, 2019

The 56-year-old philanthropist and technology investor made the surprise revelation Sunday morning (May 19) at the Historically all-male Black college ceremony.

The 400 student-graduating class could hardly contain their excitement. Tonga Releford, whose son Charles Releford III, graduated today with an estimated $70,000 in student loan debt. The news of a financial clean slate was overwhelming.

“I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she said.

The debt for all 400 students hovers around $40 million, which is a fraction of Smith's reported $5 billion.

When news broke of Smith's generous donation, many online expressing happiness, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Every Morehouse Class of 2019 student is getting their student debt load paid off by their commencement speaker.

This could be the start of what’s known in Econ as a ‘natural experiment.’ Follow these students & compare their life choices w their peers over the next 10-15 years. https://t.co/UM1qTJOxHf

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2019

This is real philanthropy.

Not giving money to a school to get your name on the wall while Administrators get raised.

Helping out real students in real need.https://t.co/HD7eF53qzu

— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 19, 2019

Just so everyone’s clear: Robert’s gift is estimated at $40 million. It is the largest ever gift to @Morehouse and the single largest gift ever provided to eliminate student debt in the United States. With student debt disproportionately strangling Black people, this is major. https://t.co/qTUCFJKAQy

— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) May 19, 2019

And because the Internet is the Internet, the jokes had to fly.

Next year’s Morehouse commencement speaker: pic.twitter.com/gYApx8OXGm

— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) May 19, 2019

Big ups to Mr. Smith and congratulations to Morehouse's Class of 2019.

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Win McNamee

Sybrina Fulton Is Running For Office In Florida

Since Trayvon Martin's murder in 2012, Sybrina Fulton has dedicated her life to preserving her son's legacy. Now, Fulton is taking it one step further as she's announced she's running for office in Florida.

“Since 2012, I have advocated tirelessly to empower our communities and make them safer,” Fulton said to The Miami Herald. “But the work is not done. I am proud to announce that I will run to represent District 1 on the county commission.”

"Our county must continue moving forward so our families are safe from violence, can afford to live in Miami-Dade, and have access to good paying jobs,” she continued. “I am ready to take on these issues and many others in county government.”

Fulton will run against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez during the 2020 election, a seat which will be vacated by Commissioner Barbara Jordan in the same year.

Fulton, alongside Trayvon's father Tracy, found themselves the focus of media attention in 2012 when 17-year-old Trayvon was racially profiled, followed and shot by self-appointed neighborhood watchmen George Zimmerman.

Unarmed Trayvon was staying with his father in central Florida when on the night of Feb 26, he went to a local convenience store and crossed paths with Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was taken into custody by police that night but later released. It would months later in April when Zimmerman was formally arrested and charged. On July 13, 2013,  Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges.

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