Zimmerman bail set at $1 million
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Using words like “false testimony” and “misled,” a judge granted $1 million bail Thursday for neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, but questioned his honesty and suggested he had plotted to leave the country when he was out of jail the first time.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester referred to Zimmerman with words like “conceal” and “flee” more than a dozen times in an eight-page order that lets him out of jail while he awaits his second-degree murder trial in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The judge’s doubts could hurt a Zimmerman attempt to dismiss the case by claiming he shot Martin in self-defense, a possible motion based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, experts said.
“Mr. Zimmerman is not held in any high esteem by this court,” said Karin Moore, a law professor at Florida A&M University College of Law. “I think that could matter if there is a ‘stand your ground’ hearing … It’s a matter of credibility. There is no one else to testify to support the self-defense claim.”
3 killed as yacht in N.Y. capsizes
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (AP) — A yacht that capsized with 27 friends and family aboard on an outing to watch Fourth of July fireworks was severely overcrowded and doomed to tip over, safety experts said Thursday as the skipper blamed the tragedy on a wave that came out of the dark.
Three children died after becoming trapped Wednesday night in the cabin of the 34-foot vessel off Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island.
Sal Aureliano, who was at the helm of the Candi I, told TV’s News12 Long Island that he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit.
“It turned the boat around,” he said, his voice cracking. “It just turned the boat. I didn’t see it. It was dark. I didn’t see it.”
Aureliano’s nephew David Aureliano, 12, and two girls, 11-year-old Harley Treanor and 8-year-old Victoria Gaines, died. The 24 other passengers, adults and children, were rescued from the water, mostly by fellow boaters, and were not seriously hurt.
“The next thing I know, we’re turning, and we just kept turning, and everybody was in the water. It was chaos,” said Aureliano, who didn’t answer the door to The Associated Press.
Rihanna sues her ex-accountants
NEW YORK (AP) — Rihanna sued her former accountants Thursday, blaming them for tens of millions of dollars in losses, shoddy bookkeeping, a failure to recommend she trim expenses during a 2009 tour that was losing money and an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
The lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan sought unspecified damages against New York-based Berdon LLP and two accountants. A Berdon spokeswoman said the company had no immediate comment.
The singer, suing under her real name, Robyn Fenty, alleged through her attorneys that the defendants drained tens of millions of dollars from revenues while she launched four national and international tours over a five-year period.
By the “Last Girl on Earth” tour in 2009, Rihanna learned that the tour had managed “significant net losses” despite robust revenues, though the defendants had managed to pocket 22 percent of the tour’s total revenues while paying Rihanna just 6 percent of revenues, the lawsuit said. It said Berdon’s unusual accounting practice of paying itself a percentage of gross tour income as commissions left it no incentive to “counsel” Rihanna to reduce expenses or put in place appropriate financial controls.
The lawsuit alleged that the practice of paying itself commissions on revenues was not standard in the accounting and business management industry and created a clear conflict of interest.
Rihanna’s lawyers also blamed the accounting firm for an ongoing IRS audit of her tax returns, saying she was forced to spend significant resources to correct errors resulting from negligence.
Since firing the firm and its accountants in September 2010, Rihanna’s fortunes already have reversed, the lawsuit said. The “Loud” tour stretching from June 2011 to December 2011 produced a net profit equal to more than 40 percent of total tour revenues, it added.
According to the lawsuit, the singer hired the accountants in 2005 when she was a 16-year-old from Barbados launching her career. She alleged that they repeatedly breached their agreements, engaged in misconduct and malfeasance, paid themselves excessive commissions, created entities without regard to their effect on her taxes and failed to document revenue and expenses and implement a proper budget.
The lawsuit also blamed the company for Rihanna’s 2009 purchase of a new home, saying competent business managers would have told her that her tour was losing money and that it would not be advisable to buy such an expensive home at that time.
Last year, Rihanna sued a real estate company in Los Angeles over the $6.9 million purchase of a hillside home in 2009, saying it had serious structural defects that made it inhabitable.