AP News in Brief 10-04-18

Probes of Trump taxes carry potential for millions in fines

NEW YORK — Though President Donald Trump insists he did nothing wrong on his taxes, experts say he could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in civil fines if state and federal authorities substantiate a New York Times report that found he and his family cheated the IRS for decades.

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The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges has long run out, but civil cases have no such limits, and the financial penalties could be staggering. Civil fraud charges for intentionally underpaying taxes, as the Times alleged the Trump family did, could include a penalty of up to 75 percent of the unpaid federal taxes and double the unpaid state amount, experts said.

The penalties “could be substantial, and if the allegations are proven in court, they should be levied,” said Norman Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and former chief ethics counsel in the Obama administration.

The New York tax department said it is studying the Times’ 15,000-word report and “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” New York City also said it would investigate. A spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service declined to comment.

Officer killed, 6 other officers wounded in South Carolina

FLORENCE, S.C. — Seven South Carolina law enforcement officers were shot Wednesday, one fatally, in a confrontation with a man who held children hostage as he fired on the officers, officials said.

The suspect was taken into custody and the children weren’t hurt after a two-hour standoff in an upscale neighborhood just outside of Florence, not far from areas that were devastated by flooding from Hurricane Florence, authorities said.

The man shot three Florence County deputies from inside a home as they came to serve a warrant around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Florence County Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Nunn said.

The suspect then shot four Florence city police officers, one fatally, as officers from all around the area swarmed in to help, Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler said.

A bullet-proof vehicle had to be used to rescue the wounded officers as the man held children hostage inside for two hours, Nunn said.

Little but uncertainty in Indonesian city hit by disasters

PALU, Indonesia — Life is on hold for thousands living in tents and shelters in the Indonesian city hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, unsure when they’ll be able to rebuild and spending hours each day often futilely trying to secure necessities such as fuel for generators.

Residents whose homes had been destroyed had little but uncertainty on the seventh day since the disasters. But they also had hope more aid would pour into the city of Palu and the surrounding Donggala district on the island of Sulawesi.

From wire sources

Some residents have taken to digging through reeking piles of sodden food and debris, searching a warehouse wrecked in the tsunami for anything they could salvage: cans of condensed milk, soft drinks, rice, candy and painkillers. Others carted away corrugated metal, wood, piping and other items to build temporary shelters or sell.

Andi Rusding, huddled with numerous family members under a tarpaulin, said they’d gotten some aid but its distribution was uneven and they felt shortchanged.

“Please tell the government and the NGOs if they’re really willing to help us with some foods please do not give it away through the command posts,” he said. “It is better to go directly to each and every tent. Because sometime (the relief goods) didn’t distribute evenly.”

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NKorea said to have stolen a fortune in online bank heists

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests have stopped, but its hacking operations to gather intelligence and raise funds for the sanction-strapped government in Pyongyang may be gathering steam.

U.S. security firm FireEye raised the alarm Wednesday over a North Korean group that it says has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars by infiltrating the computer systems of banks around the world since 2014 through highly sophisticated and destructive attacks that have spanned at least 11 countries. It says the group is still operating and poses “an active global threat.”

It is part of a wider pattern of malicious state-backed cyber activity that has led the Trump administration to identify North Korea — along with Russia, Iran and China — as one of the main online threats facing the United States. Last month, the Justice Department charged a North Korean hacker said to have conspired in devastating cyberattacks, including an $81 million heist of Bangladesh’s central bank and the WannaCry virus that crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned of the use of malware by Hidden Cobra, the U.S. government’s byword for North Korea hackers, in fraudulent ATM cash withdrawals from banks in Asia and Africa. It said that Hidden Cobra was behind the theft of tens of millions of dollars from teller machines in the past two years. In one incident this year, cash had been simultaneously withdrawn from ATMs in 23 different countries, it said.

North Korea, which prohibits access to the world wide web for virtually all its people, has previously denied involvement in cyberattacks, and attribution for such attacks is rarely made with absolute certainty. It is typically based on technical indicators such as the Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses that identify computers and characteristics of the coding used in malware, which is the software a hacker may use to damage or disable computers.

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APNewsBreak: DEA’s Colombia post jarred by misconduct probes

BOGOTA, Colombia — New turmoil has roiled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s high-profile office in Colombia, where at least three agents have left in recent months amid investigations into alleged misconduct, including accusations that one passed secrets to drug cartels and another used government resources to hire prostitutes.

The DEA’s top-ranking official in South America, who was brought in three years ago in the wake of a scandal involving agents participating in sex parties with prostitutes, is under investigation after the agency received an anonymous complaint saying he directed Colombian drivers working for the U.S. Embassy in Bogota “to procure sex workers,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Associated Press and one current and one former law enforcement official. The officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Richard Dobrich, a regional director who is retiring from the DEA next month to take a private sector job, said in a statement and interview with the AP that the complaint is without merit and he would have to be a “complete idiot” to have anything to do with prostitution given the office’s history. He also denied his departure has anything to do with the accusation.

“There is nothing to this — zero,” Dobrich said of the anonymous complaint, adding he wants another probe into how it got out. Dobrich said he believes this “attempted assassination on my reputation” is a setup, perhaps by a disgruntled former DEA employee.

Dobrich said investigators from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General interviewed him at his office in Colombia last month and seized his phone as a matter of routine. Dobrich said he was later told by an investigator that no misconduct was found, but neither the OIG nor the investigator named by Dobrich would comment on the status of the investigation.

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Lawyers: Ronaldo accuser suffers from post-traumatic stress

LAS VEGAS — Lawyers for a Nevada woman accusing Cristiano Ronaldo of raping her nine years ago said Wednesday that their client has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and depression, conditions they argue would have made her legally incompetent to reach a non-disclosure agreement.

Kathryn Mayorga didn’t appear with her lawyers at a news conference in Las Vegas the same day that Ronaldo denied the rape accusations, using Twitter to say he had a “clear conscience” as he awaits results “of any and all investigations.”

“I firmly deny the accusations,” he said. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.”

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Mayorga’s attorney Larissa Drohobyczer told reporters the psychiatrist’s recent medical opinion was that Mayorga’s psychological injuries were “caused by Cristiano Ronaldo’s sexual assault in 2009.”

The doctor, Norton Roitman in Las Vegas, did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.