Washington: President-elect Joe Biden is against the death penalty and will work to end its use, his spokesman said Saturday, as the Justice Department scheduled three more federal executions before the Jan. 20 inauguration, including two shortly before he is set to take office.
The Bureau of Prisons on Thursday carried out the eighth federal execution this year, after a 17-year hiatus, and it is likely to increase pressure on Biden to decide whether his administration would continue to schedule executions once he is sworn in. Advocacy groups have called on the Trump administration to pause all executions until Biden takes office.
Biden opposes the death penalty now and in the future, press secretary TJ Ducklo said. He did not say whether executions would be paused immediately once Biden takes office.
Federal executions resumed this year despite the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 people and is raging inside the nation's prison systems. This year, the Justice Department has put to death more people than during the previous half-century, despite waning public support from both Democrats and Republicans for its use.
In a court filing Friday night, the department said it was scheduling the executions of Alfred Bourgeois for Dec. 11 and Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs for Jan. 14 and 15. Two other executions had been scheduled for this year, including the first woman set to be executed by the federal government in about six decades. But on Thursday, a federal judge ruled that execution could not proceed before the end of the year.
Prosecutors say Bourgeois tortured, sexually molested, and then beat to death his 2 1/2-year-old daughters to death.
Johnson was one of three crack cocaine dealers convicted in a string of murders. Prosecutors said he killed seven people in an attempt to expand the territory of a Richmond, Virginia, gang and silence informants. His co-defendants, members of the same drug gang, are also on death row.
Johnson's lawyers argue their client is intellectually disabled, and thus it would be unconstitutional to put him to death. The Supreme Court has held that it is unlawful to execute a person who is of such low intelligence that they can't function in society.
His lawyers say "no jury or court has ever listened to the evidence at a hearing to decide if he has an intellectual disability. Higgs was convicted of ordering the 1996 murders of three women at a federal wildlife center near Beltsville, Maryland. Prosecutors say Higgs and two others abducted the women after Higgs became enraged because one of the women rebuffed his advances at the party.
Higgs' attorney, Sean Nolan, said his client didn't kill anyone, had ineffective attorneys, and didn't deserve the death penalty.
Higgs' co-defendant, who prosecutors said carried out the killings, was not sentenced to death and Nolan said it is arbitrary and inequitable to punish Mr. Higgs more severely than the person who committed the murders.
All three men are Black, as were those who were recently executed. One upcoming execution has been placed on hold, in part because the death row inmate's lawyers got coronavirus.
When executions resumed this year, the death-row inmates chosen were all white. Critics have argued that executing white inmates first was a political calculation in a nation embroiled in racial bias concerns involving the criminal justice system.
A September report by the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center said Black people remain overrepresented on death rows, including federal death row.
The organization's database shows that 25 of 55 federal death row inmates (46%) are Black, while Blacks make up only about 13% of the U.S. population. (
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Bengaluru, Jun 12: Karnataka police on Saturday said they have busted a Rs 290 crore plus scam that involved duping people through a mobile app after promising attractive interest on investment and two Chinese nationals were among the nine arrested.
The scam, aided by shell companies, is linked to money laundering and the suspected kingpin is a Kerala based business man with proximity to Chinese 'hawala' operators, they said.
Cyber Crime Division of CID said it has arrested accused persons, including two Chinese nationals, two Tibetans and five others acting as directors of the companies involved, and a search is on for the rest.
A complaint from Razor pay Software Private Limited said accused persons availed 'payment solutions' from them, claiming that they are in gaming, social and e-commerce businesses.
They, however, defrauded the company by using computer resources and by deviating from their original, registered line of business, the plaint said.
They started routing their transactions to collect payments from a different business named "Powerbank", an app listed in Google Playstore, cyber police said in a release.
Through customer complaints, the complainant company got to know that public invested money in the "Powerbank" app to earn interest on the invested amount.
The accused persons, after accepting the investments, neither gave the agreed interest nor the principal amount and cheated customers.
A case was registered under the Information Technology Act and 420 IPC (Cheating), the CCD said and added that the investigating team were successful in arresting nine men.
During investigation, it was found that Anas Ahmed, a Kerala based businessman, is the main person involved.
"We have also identified that he has very proximate connections with the Chinese hawala operators, which has come to light during the course of the investigation.
He had opened shell companies in the name of Bull Finch Technologies, H & S ventures and Clifford ventures to route the fraud money. Anas Ahamed is married to Chinese national and incidentally he did his studies in China," police said in the release.
Online applications hosted by him were later camouflaged and converted into different apps including Power Bank application, seeking investment from the public and promising good returns, the CCD said.
An unusual spike was seen in investments on the day Anees Ahmed announced much higher returns.
Subsequently, such apps were removed from Google Playstore and other websites and he absconded with the money.
Investigation showed Rs 290 crore inflow into his bank accounts and the CCD was successful in freezing a significant portion of it. There was a huge spike in opening of shell companies since November 2020.
"We have also observed that the Chinese handlers are in possession of a huge number of shell companies and bank accounts. Lured by the offer of the Chinese nationals, many innocent Indians and Tibetans have fallen in their trap to open shell companies and open bank accounts for them."