News Roundup

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley lost more than $6 million to lawyer Donald Watkins Sr.’s scheme, according to prosecutors. (Photo by Bruce Yeung /

An Alabama lawyer was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for running an energy investment scheme that defrauded former NBA star Charles Barkley and other athletes. Donald Watkins Sr., 70, will also have to pay about $14 million in restitution. Watkins said he still considers the victims to be friends and they will eventually benefit financially. (The Associated Press,

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the state’s death penalty using its “King’s Bench Power” to decide matters of immediate public importance. Krasner cited findings that 72% of Philadelphia death sentences over 40 years had been overturned, many of them because of ineffective legal representation. Krasner says the study found inconsistencies and inequities that make the death penalty unconstitutional as applied. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia DA press release)

Republican political consultant Roger Stone won’t be able to post anything on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as a result of a federal judge’s ruling on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she acted because Stone violated a gag order and his “middle-school” online behavior could prejudice jurors in his trial for alleged lies about WikiLeaks. Stone’s posts had raised doubts about whether Russia was responsible for hacking Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks. (The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal)

A suspended Pennsylvania judge is facing ethics charges in connection with his guilty plea to money laundering and extortion. The Bucks County magisterial judge, John Waltman, was sentenced to 6½ years in prison last month. Prosecutors said he sought kickbacks from people seeking to do business with towns in the county in exchange for use of his influence to help them. He also conspired to launder cash from undercover agents who said the money came from drug trafficking and health-care fraud, prosecutors said. (Law360, Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board)

Seven landlords and two groups that represent their interests have filed lawsuits contending that new rent control laws in New York violate the constitutional right to due process and the ban on taking private property without just compensation. Though the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld rent regulations, the plaintiffs in the new suit hope the case will reach the court and get a favorable outcome from its new conservative majority. (The New York Times)