El Paso, Dayton shootings prompt protest outside White House

WASHINGTON — Protesters chanted “white supremacy has got to go” and “immigrants are welcome here” across from the White House on Tuesday at a rally sparked by mass shootings over the weekend that killed 31 people and injured many more.

Organized by a coalition of civil rights and gun reform groups, the rally demanded that President Donald Trump stop denigrating immigrants and that the Senate pass gun control legislation, including a bill that passed the House months ago requiring a background check for every gun sale.

“It’s not Congress, it’s Mitch McConnell in the Senate, representing the special interests of the NRA” that is responsible for inaction on gun control, said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Other groups involved in the Lafayette Square protest included Voto Latino, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

— CQ-Roll Call

Rep. Chris Collins and his son get some securities fraud charges dropped

WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is dropping three securities fraud charges against Rep. Chris Collins and two against his son, Cameron, in order to avoid unnecessary pretrial litigation that could delay the case, according to a court filing submitted Tuesday.

The government’s decision still leaves father and son facing a tsunami of remaining charges stemming from the New York Republican congressman’s alleged role in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics. Chris Collins served on the company’s board of directors and allegedly gave material, nonpublic information to his son about confidential drug test results so that his son, and others, could trade on the news before the results were announced to the public. They were able to avoid approximately $768,000 in losses, according to the Justice Department.

The congressman still faces eight charges, including conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and making false statements. He could face decades in prison if convicted on all charges. The younger Collins also faces serious jail time and nine total charges.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York noted in his filing that a grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday that supersedes the congressman’s original indictment on Aug. 8 last year.

— CQ-Roll Call

Prosecutors, lawyers for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s wife seek new sentencing date

SAN DIEGO — Federal prosecutors and attorneys for Margaret Hunter, wife of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, asked the court Tuesday to push to December her sentencing on one count of conspiracy.

The count names her husband as her sole co-conspirator.

In a two-page document filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, the lawyers asked to move the date for Margaret Hunter’s sentencing from Sept. 16 to Dec. 2. She pleaded guilty in June to the conspiracy charge, one of 60 counts included in an indictment against herself and her husband.

The indictment accuses Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Margaret Hunter, his former campaign manager, of using more than $250,000 of Hunter’s political money for personal expenses such as their children’s private school tuition, oral surgery, a family vacation to Italy and Duncan Hunter’s extramarital affairs.

Both Margaret and Duncan Hunter pleaded not guilty to the indictment in August 2018. Margaret Hunter changed her plea in June, while her husband continues to fight the charges.

Duncan Hunter’s trial is scheduled for trial Sept. 10.

As part of her plea deal, Margaret Hunter agreed to help prosecutors and testify against her husband. The court has deferred until Duncan Hunter’s trial a ruling on whether she will be allowed to testify.

She faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced but is expected to receive a lighter sentence due to her cooperation.

— San Diego Union-Tribune

Another alligator — along with guns, narcotics — found in Chicago after police search house

CHICAGO — Chicago police discovered an alligator while searching a Northwest Side house Monday night, at least the third time one of the exotic animals was scooped up by the city’s animal control this summer.

About 9:40 p.m., officers executed a search warrant at a house in the Albany Park neighborhood, according to Chicago police.

They confiscated guns, narcotics and a 3-foot alligator, which they handed off to Chicago’s Animal Care and Control, police said.

No one had been arrested as of Tuesday afternoon, though the incident remained under investigation, said Officer Anthony Spicuzza, a police spokesman.

Jennifer Schlueter, a spokeswoman for the city’s animal control and care department, in an email confirmed the alligator’s length and said it was in good condition.

The department “is working on finding a rescue to transfer the animal into their care,” Schlueter wrote. She did not respond to requests for additional information.

Last month, an alligator that became known as “Chance the Snapper” was captured from the Humboldt Park Lagoon by Florida alligator trapper Frank Robb.

Robb became an instant Chicago celebrity and a Tribune investigation found the cost of searching for “Chance the Snapper” exceeded $33,000, though Robb’s fee was only $2,500.

Weeks later, a Facebook Live video of a man holding a small alligator in front of the lagoon went viral, but his account of snatching the creature from the water was disputed by police.

— Chicago Tribune