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The former Yale University women’s soccer coach whose cooperation with authorities helped blow the lid off the nationwide college admissions bribery scandal by leading the FBI to the scheme’s mastermind was sentenced Wednesday to five months in prison.

Rudy Meredith, head coach at Yale from 1995 until 2018, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to wire fraud for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help students get into the elite Ivy League university as soccer recruits. In one case, the recruit did not play competitive soccer, prosecutors have said.

Federal prosecutors and Meredith’s defense lawyers had recommended no additional prison time beyond the one day he had already spent in custody. But U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf said Wednesday that Meredith’s greed and his victims warranted a stiffer sentence.

Wolf described the victims as the members of the Yale team who were “betrayed” by being cheated out of having better teammates, as well as unknown victims — young women who might have gotten into Yale had Meredith not decided to essentially sell slots on the team. Those unknown victims may have included women from disadvantaged backgrounds, the judge said.

“You committed a very serious crime and you didn’t have to do it,” Wolf said.

Before he was sentenced, Meredith, his voice shaking, issued an apology and said he had ruined his reputation and his career because he was driven by greed and the desire to provide for his family.

“It’s all my fault and I am going to pay for this for the rest of my life,” he said.

In addition to the prison term, Meredith was sentenced to a year of probation, fined $19,000 and ordered to forfeiti more than $550,000.

Investigators began looking into Meredith after an executive who prosecutors were targeting in an unrelated securities fraud scheme told them that the coach had offered to help his daughter get into the school in exchange for cash.

Authorities set up a sting in a Boston hotel room in April 2018 and recorded Meredith soliciting a $450,000 bribe from the father.

He helped investigators unravel the wider bribery scheme dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by leading them to William “Rick” Singer, the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme.


R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago that starts Monday is in many ways a do-over of his 2008 state child pornography trial, at which jurors acquitted the singer on charges that he produced a video of himself when he was around 30 having sex with a girl no older than 14.

There’s one big difference: This time, prosecutors say, she will testify.

Kelly, 55, goes into Chicago federal court already sentenced by a New York federal judge to a 30-year prison term for a 2021 conviction on charges he parlayed his fame to sexually abuse other young fans.

Among the most serious charges the Grammy Award winner faces at his federal trial is conspiracy to obstruct justice by rigging the 2008 trial, including by paying off and threatening the girl to ensure she did not testify.

Testimony by the woman, now in her 30s and referred to in filings only as “Minor 1,” will be pivotal. The charges against Kelly also include four counts of the enticement of minors for sex — one count each for four other accusers. All are also slated to testify.

Even just one or two convictions in Chicago could add decades to Kelly’s New York sentence, which he is appealing. With the New York sentence alone, Kelly will be around 80 before qualifying for early release.

Prosecutors at the federal trial plan to play the same VHS tape that was “Exhibit No. 1″ at the 2008 trial. While it was the only video in evidence 14 years ago, at least three other videos will be entered into evidence at the federal trial.


A Nevada woman has lost her bid in a U.S. court to force international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions of dollars more than the $375,000 in hush money she received after claiming he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas kicked the case out of court on Friday to punish the woman’s attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall, for “bad-faith conduct” and the use of leaked and stolen documents detailing attorney-client discussions between Ronaldo and his lawyers. Dorsey said that tainted the case beyond redemption.

Dorsey said in her 42-page order that dismissing a case outright with no option to file it again is a severe sanction, but said Ronaldo had been harmed by Stovall’s conduct.

“I find that the procurement and continued use of these documents was bad faith, and simply disqualifying Stovall will not cure the prejudice to Ronaldo because the misappropriated documents and their confidential contents have been woven into the very fabric of (plaintiff Kathryn) Mayorga’s claims,” the ruling said. “Harsh sanctions are merited.”

Stovall did not immediately respond Saturday to telephone and email messages. Text messages to associate Larissa Drohobyczer were not answered. They could appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

In a statement referring to Mayorga only as “plaintiff,” Ronaldo’s attorney in Las Vegas, Peter Christiansen, said Cristiano’s legal team welcomed the decision.


The owner of a statue of a former U.S. Supreme Court chief justice said he has removed it at the request of county commissioners.

The statue of Melville Fuller, who was from Maine, was removed without warning from its granite base outside Kennebec County Courthouse on Sunday. Fuller supported segregation laws. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court requested the county move the statue in 2020.

Robert Fuller Jr., a relative of the chief justice, owns the statue. He said in a letter to the Kennebec Journal on Wednesday that county commissioners never required him to give advance notice of his intention to remove the statue.

Fuller Jr. wrote in his letter that he “thought it best to remove the statue and store it in a safe place for the time being.” He said he was concerned about the possibility of vandalism of the statue.


U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a stickler for courtroom decorum renowned for keeping a full case load long past the age when many others would have retired or reduced their workload, has died at age 87, his assistant confirmed Thursday.

Feldman died Wednesday night of a heart attack, Donna Wisecarver said. He would have turned 88 on Friday.

“He was an amazing judge,” Wisecarver said. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Feldman was an imposing figure on the bench, silver-haired and bow-tied, quick to praise attorneys he considered well-prepared, staunchly critical of those who weren’t and always on alert for a witness he thought might be straying from the truth.

A contemporary and longtime friend of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Feldman was nominated to the federal bench in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. He declined to take senior status — meaning a reduced caseload — when he turned 65. And he returned to full time work even after a 2017 car crash broke three of his ribs and landed him in the hospital for six weeks.

Feldman relished the drama inherent to high-stakes court proceedings. He prided himself on conducting his own research before sentencing criminal defendants. In his later years, he took an increasingly skeptical view of what he described as “government overreach.”

It was a term he invoked recently during proceedings he was overseeing at the time of his death — involving federal tax fraud charges against Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, whose trial is pending.

In a 2015 ruling, he was harshly critical of federal prosecutors as he overturned some of the convictions in a case involving Louisiana tax credits for the movie industry.

In part, the case involved a question of whether an email was sent through a server outside of Louisiana — making it a federal matter of interstate commerce. Feldman said prosecutors failed to prove the email crossed state lines. And he blasted prosecutors for suggesting that the defense should have proved the email had traveled over a Louisiana server.

“This incendiary and petulant suggestion as to how the defendants could have strengthened their case fundamentally perverts the American criminal justice system and would destroy the very foundation of constitutional due process,” Feldman said, cautioning that the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

Feldman also served for seven years on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, D.C., a panel that approves federal eavesdropping in terrorism and espionage cases.


A U.S. judge sided Thursday with an attorney who alleged she was wrongly fired by the state of Alaska over political opinions expressed on a personal blog.

U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled that Elizabeth Bakalar’s December 2018 firing violated her free speech and associational rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.

According to Sedwick’s decision, Bakalar was an attorney with the Alaska Department of Law who handled election-related cases and was assigned to advise or represent state agencies in high-profile or complex matters. She began a blog in 2014 that focused on issues such as lifestyle, parenting and politics but began blogging more about politics and then-President Donald Trump after his 2016 election. She also commented about Trump on Twitter, with her name listed as the Twitter handle, the order says.

Shortly after Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s election in 2018, the chair of his transition team and later his chief of staff, Tuckerman Babcock, sent a memo to a broad swath of state employees requesting they submit their resignations along with a statement of interest in continuing to work for the new administration. The request was derided by attorneys for Bakalar and others as a demand for a “loyalty pledge.”

“To keep their jobs employees had to actually offer up a resignation with an accompanying statement of interest in continuing with the new administration and then hope that the incoming administration would reject the resignation,” Sedwick wrote.

Babcock said he fired Bakalar because he considered the tone of her resignation letter to be unprofessional, the order says. But Sedwick said Babcock did not accept the resignation of an assistant attorney general who used the same wording he had found objectionable when used by Bakalar.

While every lawyer in the Department of Law received the memo, just two — Bakalar and another attorney who had been critical of Trump on social media — had their resignation letters accepted, according to Sedwick’s decision.


Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, died Sunday. She was 76.

Susan Hays, Weddington’s former student and colleague, said she died in her sleep early Sunday morning at her Austin home. Weddington had been in poor health for some time and it was not immediately clear what caused her death, Hays told The Associated Press.

Raised as a minister’s daughter in the West Texas city of Abilene, Weddington attended law school at the University of Texas. A couple years after graduating, she and a former classmate, Linda Coffee, brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman challenging a state law that largely banned abortions.

The case of “Jane Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, was brought against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and eventually advanced to the Supreme Court.

Weddington’s death comes as the Supreme Court is considering a case over Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that’s widely considered to be most serious challenge in years to the Roe decision.

While that case was before the court, Weddington also ran to represent Austin in the Texas House of Representatives. She was elected in 1972 and served three terms as a state lawmaker, before becoming general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later working as advisor on women’s issues to President Jimmy Carter.

Weddington later wrote a book on Roe v. Wade, gave lectures and taught courses at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Women’s University on leadership, law and gender discrimination. She remained active in the political and legal worlds well into her later years, attending the 2019 signing ceremony for a New York state law meant to safeguard abortion rights should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

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