SOUTHLAKE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Mohamed Toure, 58, and Denise Cros-Toure, 58, of Southlake, Texas, were sentenced by a U.S. District judge to seven years in prison each and ordered to pay more than $288,000 in restitution.
Mohamed Toure, 57 and Denise Cros-Toure, 57 (photo credit: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office)
As a consequence of their convictions, the defendants, who are citizens of Guinea and lawful permanent residents of the United States, may lose their U.S. immigration status and be removed to Guinea pursuant to law.
“I hope that today’s sentence brings some measure of justice and healing to the victim, who suffered untold trauma as a result of the defendants’ heinous crimes. The defendants stole her childhood and her labor for years, enriching themselves while leaving her with pain and an uncertain future,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “I am very grateful to all who supported, and continue to support, the victim as she attempts to rebuild her life. The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and vigorously prosecute human traffickers and vindicate the rights of their victims.”
“Forced labor trafficking cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute – in part because victims are often afraid to speak out,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “It took tremendous courage for this young woman to share her story at trial. She was brought to this country at a young age, pressured to stay quiet, and forced to work for this family without pay for 16 years. I want to commend her, as well as the witnesses who helped shine a light on her circumstances. If we want to wipe out human trafficking, we need to remind witnesses to speak up, and ask the community to remain alert.”
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those abusing and exploiting individuals: you will be held responsible for your vicious acts,” said Jeffrey McGallicher, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Houston Field Office. “The Diplomatic Security Service wields a global law enforcement reach, is committed to investigating these crimes wherever they occur, and remains dedicated to its partnerships in pursuing justice for the victims of human trafficking.”
According to the evidence at trial, the defendants, members of wealthy and powerful Guinean families, arranged for the victim, then a young child from a rural Guinean community, to travel alone from her home in West Africa to the defendants’ home in Southlake, Texas, in early 2000.
Toure home in Southlake (CBS11)
Once in the United States, the defendants forced the victim to cook, clean, and take care of their biological children, some of whom were close in age to the victim, without pay for the next 16 years.
Evidence at trial further established that the defendants physically, emotionally, and verbally punished the young victim when she disobeyed or otherwise failed to perform the required labor to their satisfaction. For example, the defendants called the victim a “dog,” “slave,” and “worthless.” They repeatedly hit her on multiple occasions, including with an electrical cord. They forced her to sleep alone in a nearby park as punishment, abused her by shaving her head and washing her outside with a hose, and rendered her completely dependent on them for everything. They isolated her from her family and society and prevented her from receiving any education, while their own children attended school and college.
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The TCU Police Department said Monday evening, someone posted messages on social media on Sunday suggesting that on Monday there would be an incident in Fort Worth where they intended “to cause a loss of life.”
The Fort Worth Police Department has been investigating and at this point does not believe there is a credible threat, but the investigation is ongoing.
TCU was not mentioned in the social media posts and there is no indication TCU was a target.
As precautionary measure, the TCU Police Department temporarily increased staffing and extra patrols are being conducted by vehicle and foot until the matter is closed.
In a campus alert, TCU said, “The campus community is highly encouraged to remain vigilant and immediately report any suspicious activity to TCU Police at 817-257-7777.”
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Four members of a Texas family were charged with federal crimes in what prosecutors say was a scheme that used stolen identities to get tickets to the Masters golf tournament, then resell those tickets at a healthy profit.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Augusta don’t say how many Masters tickets the four defendants are suspected of obtaining, or how much money they made from any resales. Court records say that from 2013 through 2017 the family used the stolen identities in an effort to cheat the lottery system that distributes tournament tickets and to circumvent Augusta National Golf Club’s rules allowing people to apply only once to enter its ticket lottery.
Stephen Michael Freeman of Katy, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as aggravated identity theft. Freeman’s parents — Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman of Helotes, Texas — and a sister, Christine Oliverson of San Antonio, were also charged with conspiracy.
The family purchased bulk mailing lists to obtain names and addresses of people that were used to create fake accounts for Augusta National’s online ticket lottery, according to the court documents filed by federal prosecutors. Those accounts were submitted with email addresses controlled by Freeman and his relatives.
The family would then ask Augusta National to change the addresses associated with the bogus accounts, using “false driver licenses, false utility bills and false credit card statements in the identity of the fake user accounts” sent by mail, the court documents said. That would ensure any tickets won through the lottery would be mailed to addresses where Freeman and his relatives would receive them, prosecutors said.
The family “could then resell the tickets at a substantial profit,” the charging document said.
Court records did not list attorneys who could speak for Freeman or his charged relatives.
The office of U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said in a news release that the charges carry potential penalties of up to 20 years in prison, as well as substantial fines.
MESQUITE (CBSDFW.COM) – Nearly a week has passed since a North Texas mother was reported missing. And Mesquite police say they are no closer to finding her.
The last sign of Prisma Reyes, 26, is surveillance video outside a Dallas apartment complex Wednesday. Her Jeep Wrangler was found abandoned there. And she never showed to pick up her 6-year-old son.
Prisma Reyes (credit: Reyes family)
Monday Reyes’s sister, Esmeralda Peralta, when asked if she had a message for Reyes, said, “That we miss her. That she is needed here. Her kid needs her. She needs to come back. She needs to be saved. She needs to be okay.”
Mesquite police say they have no new leads and no suspects. In other words, they are no closer to finding Reyes than they were last Wednesday, when she was seen on security video at a Dallas apartment complex. Police say it is the last sign of the single mom.
Lilia Peralta, her mother, said in Spanish, “I don’t feel good, worried for my daughter. I would want the people who see her, or if somebody has seen something to give information to the police. Because mothers and fathers… we love our kids very much. Right now, this can’t be happening.”
Knowing her daughter as only a mother can, Ms. Peralta says Reyes looks nervous on the security video but remains cautiously hopeful.
“My daughter’s here. My daughter’s hiding. I feel somebody has her captive,” Ms. Peralta said in Spanish.
This spring, Paige was named a Distinguished Finalist in Texas, in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, recognizing youth volunteers from across the state.
“The whole gym was chanting her name. They were all just so proud,” Mrs. House says of the student body’s reaction to Paige’s award.
Paige has also been invited to apply for recognition in the Governor’s Volunteer Awards program and the First Lady’s Rising Star Award, recognizing extraordinary contributions of Texans under age 18 to their communities.
Born with a hearing impairment, Paige credits her teachers with giving her the confidence to overcome obstacles. She loves school and is an avid reader.
“They’ve been so kind to me,” Paige says.
That’s what motivates her to take on all this extra work. Paige Cook has a motto, as simple and essential as the pencils she collects: “Kindness starts with you, and me.”
“My teachers taught me to believe in myself and be who I want to be,” she says.
Paige is now planning to set up a “Kindness Closet” at her school, where students and teachers can choose from a range of supplies they may need. Her pencil program is continuing as well.
GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – Garland Police are searching for a vehicle and its driver involved in a fatality hit-and-run accident that happened Sunday night.
On April 21, shortly after 10:30 p.m., Garland Police and Fire responded to the report of a hit-and-run crash where a pedestrian was struck on Broadway Boulevard and Oates Road.
The victim, Sabjot Singh Sureka was transported to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Traffic investigators said they believe the 22-year-old was crossing Broadway when he was struck in the southbound lanes by an unknown vehicle. The vehicle involved did not stop and fled the scene.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the vehicle and it’s driver.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Garland Police Department at 972.485.4840. Tips may also be made anonymously to Garland Crime Stoppers at 972.272. TIPS (8477) or online at garlandcrimestoppers.org.
DESOTO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – DeSoto ISD is delaying a decision to eliminate up to 277 jobs in order to give employees more time to decide whether they want to retire or resign, according to a district spokeswoman.
Spokeswoman Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones said the hope is for staffing decisions to be made “through attrition.”
The plan is part of the latest proposal to dig the district out of a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.
Of the jobs on the chopping block, roughly 200 of the positions belong to teachers or teachers’ aides.
The DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees voted to temporarily close Northside Elementary last week to help cut costs. The school’s population will be absorbed by Ruby Young Elementary School and The Meadows Elementary School.
Now the local teacher’s union is speaking out. The Southwest Dallas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers represents education professionals in DeSoto.
“We have reached out to the district to request a meeting to ensure those facing layoffs will be able to land on their feet financially and in their career going forward,” said Sonja Pace, a DeSoto ISD teacher with more than 13 years of experience. “The employees affected by this reduction in force should have the full support of the district in finding another job.”
Union leaders also asked why hundreds of people might lose their jobs when no significant changes were made to top-level administrators.
This year, Superintendent Dr. D’Andre Weaver hired six chiefs to join his executive cabinet. Their salaries begin at $135,000.
Dr. D’Andre Weaver – DeSoto ISD Superintendent (DeSoto ISD)
Five of those positions were vacant or already budgeted, according to Blackmon-Jones.
Dr. Weaver created the sixth position, the Chief of Research, Evaluation and Design, in late 2018.
Ben Mackey, a principal in Dallas ISD, ultimately accepted the job.
His salary will be $155,000, making him the second highest-paid administrator on the cabinet, only behind Dr. Weaver.
Mackey is also running for the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. He launched his campaign in early February, a month after DeSoto ISD announced his hiring.
Even with the big vote on job reductions postponed until next week, there could still be fireworks at Monday’s board meeting.
One taxpayer said she’s so frustrated with the financial and academic state of DeSoto ISD that she is demanding Carl Sherman Jr., resign as board president.
“I believe if he steps down as school board president, the message to other school board members is we need to do our job or the community is going to speak out, and the community is going to come and show up and force us to resign and do our jobs,” said Judith Wright, who moved to DeSoto last year.
The Ones for Justice reached out to Sherman, Jr., for comment but has not gotten a response.
Several attempts to contact Mackey for comment went unanswered.
FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Two championship golf courses and a lighted short course are coming to 600 acres in Frisco.
On Monday, the PGA of America revealed its plans for a major development that includes a lot more than just moving its headquarters from Florida.
Legendary pro golfer Lee Trevino was in town giving his stamp of approval to designs the PGA hopes will not only appeal to those who already love the sport, but also encourage future generations to embrace it as well.
Major golf development plans in Frisco (courtesy: PGA of America)
Late last year the PGA of America announced it was moving its headquarters from Florida to Frisco, but the plans revealed Monday include much more on 600 acres near Highway 380 and the Dallas North Tollway.
The project will cost half a billion dollars and in addition to the championship courses, a driving range and putting green.
A hotel and retail development will also be part of the plan.
Major golf development plans in Frisco (courtesy: PGA of America)
CEO Seth Waugh told CBS 11 the PGA’s main purpose is to grow the game of golf and believes Frisco is the right place to do it.
A lot of what were thinking is not just the golf part of it, which is obviously going to be a big part,” said Waugh. “We are going to bring lots of championships here and of course lots of revenue to our adopted hometown but also the community around it. We think this can kind of be the center of golf commerce. I’ve been quoted as saying ‘the Silicon Valley of golf.”
Frisco will host two PGA championships on both the men’s and the women’s side.
The men’s in 2027 and 2034.
Look for the project to begin opening in 2022.
The PGA said it plans to make everything open and accessible to the public.
Major golf development plans in Frisco (courtesy: PGA of America)
(CBS Local)–Phillipa Soo graduated from The Juilliard School only seven years ago, but she’s already had some incredible professional experiences.
Soo hit it big when she was nominated for a Tony in “Hamilton” and now is a co-star of the new CBS drama “The Code.” In a world with so many different media options, the former “Hamilton” star is excited to be on a network show with a talent cast.
“They are all incredibly kind, humble and efficient,” said Soo in an interview with CBS Local. “It’s a great set to be on. The most interesting part is that Harper goes on a 180 degree journey. She comes from privilege and a family that has not served in the Marines. She’s the first one to do it and they feel a little like this a phase for her and she’s coming to terms with that’s not the case.”
Soo also said she is similar to her character Haper because she is a perfectionist too. That mentality came from Soo’s time on the stage when she starred in shows such as “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812” and “Hamilton.” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show changed theater forever and Soo will never forget the little moments from her time on Broadway.
“I remember hours of laughter,” said Soo. “I have so much to thank Hamilton for. It was my first Broadway show and it was one of the hugest things to ever happen on Broadway. I was aware that this is not normal, but I don’t know anything else.”
The new co-star of “The Code” was prepared for the world of theater and TV thanks to experience at The Juilliard School in New York. With alums like the late Robin Williams and Jessica Chastain, Soo knew she would challenged as an actor from day one.
“It was the first time that I got to access the musical version of myself,” said Soo. “I essentially got to run around and be crazy. I got to be completely free and that is the complete opposite of what I’m doing on ‘The Code.'”
Watch “The Code” Monday nights on CBS at 9pn EST/PST.
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner again has written a message to all parents of students in the district, asking them to help stem the flow of social media threats aimed at schools and students.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that such acts are a CRIME. Some of the students involved in sending these threats have already been arrested,” Dr. Scribner wrote in his letter to parents. “Make no doubt about it – we will prosecute anyone who perpetrates such criminal activity.”
Fort Worth ISD superintendent Kent Scribner (credit: CBS11 News)
FWISD said in a news release, schools are meant to be safe learning environments for all children. “Threatening disruptions are stealing from that precious learning time, heightening the anxiety of students, staff and parents, and are a drain on resources.”
The district said social media threat directed at an east side high school on Monday resulted in nearly half of the students not coming to school.
The school has 1,054 students enrolled. On Monday, 496 were absent.
“Parents, please, help us wipe out this scourge of senseless threats that is stealing important instructional time away from our children and resulting in heightened anxiety for students, parents and staff,” Dr. Scribner said in his letter.