5 Things to Know This Morning: Spelling Champs

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Your look at the five biggest and most buzz-worthy stories of the morning.

How Psychic Stole Millions of Dollars From an Oregon Timber Heir

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Rachel Lee had her 17-year-old daughter pretend to be British and fake a pregnancy.

Man Named ‘God’ Settles with Credit Agency He Sued

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

God Gazarov is seen in this undated photo posted to LinkedIn. Courtesy God Gazarov(NEW YORK) — His prayers have been answered. 

A Brooklyn, New York man named God won a battle with the credit reporting agency Equifax, which finally recognized his name after years of problems getting loans and higher limits, according to a court settlement. 

The 27-year-old sued the agency last year in Brooklyn Federal Court because Equifax claimed its computer systems wouldn’t allow it to issue a credit report under the name God despite several pleas that his name was real. 

But now, the credit agency said it has made the “necessary alterations” so that its system recognizes the name for Gazarov and anyone else. His credit score is now near perfect, he told ABC News. 

“I never claimed I’m the almighty leader of the world,” Gazarov joked. “This country is built on immigrants, and there’s nothing wrong with people carrying non-American names. It’s not like I’m trying to say I’m Mickey Mouse and my address is Disney World in Orlando.” 

Equifax has also agreed to pay Gazarov an undisclosed amount of money to settle the lawsuit, said his lawyer James B. Fishman of Fishman & Mallon, LLP. 

“I realized this is something American companies need to be able to deal with,” Fishman told ABC News Thursday. “There are plenty of people who come here from other countries, who have unusual names, and American companies need to understand they are real people with real names that should be recognized.” 

According to court records, Gazarov, who came to the U.S. from Russia as a child, was denied a higher credit line from Capital One and a car loan from Infinity in recent years because Equifax reported he had no credit history. 

“Our claim was that they were put on notice four to five times he was a real individual and that God was his real name,” Fishman said. “He gave them his driver’s license, social security card, tax return and even a letter from his landlord to prove he’s real.” 

An Equifax representative even told Gazarov, a jewelry store owner, that he should consider changing his name, court documents said. 

“But I’d never want to change my name,” Gazarov told ABC News. “I was named after my grandfather who’s also named God, and I’m proud to carry his name. He was a very big commander in army and well respected back home.”

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Scripps National Spelling Bee Ends with Co-Champions

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

(OXON HILL, Md.) — The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended on Thursday night with not one, but two winners!

Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar were named co-champions Thursday night after running out of words.

This was the second consecutive year where the bee ended with co-champions, after Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar each earned a share of the title last year. Prior to 2014, the last tie was in 1962.

Shivashankar spelled the word scherenschnitte correctly to earn a share of the win, while Venkatachalam forced a draw by correctly spelling nunatak.

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Pregnant Singer Says She Was Kicked Off Plane Over ‘Fussy’ Child

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Pregnant singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood of Walk Off the Earth says she was thrown off a United Airlines flight because of her crying infant son.

DOJ: Thousands Of Service Members Overpaid Their Student Loans, Will Be Repaid

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

MariaArefyeva/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) –  Thousands of service members will be getting paid back by their student loan company this June. But this isn’t a paycheck, it’s more like a rebate.

That’s because tens of thousands of service members in school were overcharged on their student loan interest rates by Navient (the loan company that includes the former Sallie Mae).

By law, service members’ student loan rates are supposed to be capped at six percent.  But Navient charged some of these students more. The company will pay the students back this June, according to a Justice Department settlement announcement on Thursday.

“This compensation will provide much deserved financial relief to the nearly 78,000 men and women who were forced to pay more for their student loans than is required under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act,” Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery said in a release. 

Checks for the students, which will be mailed out in June, range from 10 bucks to over $100,000. 

The department’s investigation of Navient came after service members complained about their student loan rates. The Department of Education is changing their system, adding a database that automatically identifies students who are are eligible for the lower interest rate, instead of requiring service members to apply for the benefit.

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Theater Gunman Admits ‘Regrets’ About Shooting to Psychiatrist

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

James Holmes knew the consequences of what he was doing, doctor says.

Army Investigated Bowe Bergdahl for Harrassment, Found Allegations to Be False

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bowe Bergdahl was investigated earlier this year following an allegation of harrassment, but the U.S. Army North said Thursday it cleared him of wrongdoing.

Bergdahl was accused by a fellow soldier who lived in his barracks at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. U.S. Army North spokesperson Lt. Col. Tim Beninato said in a statement Thursday that “the Army takes any allegation of Soldier misconduct very seriously,” and that an investigation found the accusation to be untrue and “determined that no disciplinary action was warranted” in Bergdahl’s case.

Beninato added that the U.S. Army North Command “promptly addressed [the allegation] with the Soldiers involved.”

“Since February,” he noted, “no further issues have been brought to the attention of this command.”

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Army Investigated Bowe Bergdahl for Harassment, Found Allegations to Be False

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bowe Bergdahl was investigated earlier this year following an allegation of harrassment, but the U.S. Army North said Thursday it cleared him of wrongdoing.

Bergdahl was accused by a fellow soldier who lived in his barracks at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. U.S. Army North spokesperson Lt. Col. Tim Beninato said in a statement Thursday that “the Army takes any allegation of Soldier misconduct very seriously,” and that an investigation found the accusation to be untrue and “determined that no disciplinary action was warranted” in Bergdahl’s case.

Beninato added that the U.S. Army North Command “promptly addressed [the allegation] with the Soldiers involved.”

“Since February,” he noted, “no further issues have been brought to the attention of this command.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Potential Trial Date Set for UVA Student Martese Johnson

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — A potential trial date was set Thursday for the University of Virginia student who was left bloodied after being arrested outside of a Charlottesville bar, but the charges against him could still be dropped.

Honors student Martese Johnson was arrested by state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents outside a bar near campus on March 18 and the incident sparked protests over police brutality.

In late March, Johnson was expected to enter a not-guilty plea but did not because the prosecution asked for a continuance in the case.

Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstructing justice.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office has until June 12 to determine if they will drop the charges or not. If the charges are not dropped, the trial date has been set for Sept. 30.

“We are optimistic that once the investigation has been included, the prosecution will agree that the ABC officers did not have reasonable suspicion to apprehend and arrest Martese and that the charges will be dismissed,” Johnson’s attorney’s office said in a statement.

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‘God’ Settles With Credit Agency He Sued

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

The credit reporting agency Equifax is now recognizing the name “God” after Brooklyn man God Gazarov sued.

Town’s Police Go on a Boa Constrictor Hunt

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

A town in Massachusetts came together to find a snake last seen near a playground.

Mistaken Anthrax Shipments Still Being Located

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

This file photo dated 17 December 2001 shows a truck approaching the main gate at the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, from which samples containing live anthax spores were sent to 18 laboratory facilities. Credit: RGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Eighteen laboratories in nine states have begun turning over samples of anthrax to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if they contained live anthrax mistakenly provided to them by the U.S. military, the Pentagon said Thursday.

In a precautionary move, 22 employees at a military laboratory in South Korea that also received a shipment of the spores have been ordered to take the antibiotic Cipro because they may have been exposed to live spores during lab training conducted late last week, officials said.

The Pentagon has said that there is no threat to the general public from the inadvertent shipping of live anthrax and that none of the personnel in South Korea have demonstrated any signs or symptoms of exposure to anthrax.

The anthrax distributed to the 18 laboratories originated in one milliliter of live anthrax known as AG1 that was irradiated on March 18, 2014, a Defense Department official told ABC News.

The irradiation was supposed to have left the sample fully inactivated, but subsequent testing has shown it still left some live spores in the sample, the official said.

Over the course of the next 12 months, the Dugway facility provided samples of the AG1 batch to 18 private and academic laboratories in nine states as well as a U.S. military laboratory in South Korea. Each of the institutions was provided samples of the AG1 anthrax for various forms of anthrax research or product development.

On April 29, 2015, the military’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center in Maryland shipped some of the AG1 anthrax to eight companies in six states, according to the Pentagon. It was a private company in Maryland that notified the CDC on May 22 that it had received live anthrax as part of that shipment.

Since then, the CDC and the Pentagon have been working to secure all of the samples of AG1 anthrax that had been sent by FedEx to 18 laboratories.

“We are confident that the packaging and transport of these items was in accordance with the procedures outlined to ensure that the public is not at any risk,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Since the CDC and the Pentagon were notified last week that the AG1 stock might contain live spores, the remaining AG1 stock at the Dugway Proving Ground has been tested and found to contain a mix of both live and inactivated anthrax.

Stanford University confirmed Thursday that its medical school had received a vial of anthrax last July, but that it had not been used by school personnel since it was initially received 10 months ago.

After the school was notified by the CDC that it may have received minute amounts of live anthrax, the university launched “a safety review of the laboratory where the material was handled by two individuals under appropriate biosafety guidelines,” the university said in a statement.

“Stanford secured the vial in question for shipping to the CDC for evaluation to determine whether, in fact, the material was not completely inactivated. Stanford has not received any reports of incidents or reactions over the 10 months since the material was last used in the laboratory,” the university said.

U.S. military commanders at Osan Air Base in South Korea ordered the destruction of the AG1 sample they had received early last year.

“Emergency response personnel from the 51st Fighter Wing responded and destroyed the sample located in a self-contained contingency facility at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, after it was discovered the bacteria might not be an inert training sample as expected,” the 51st Fighter Wing said in a statement.

The 22 personnel may have been exposed during training on laboratory equipment conducted between May 21 and 23.

“The lab workers were wearing standard lab apparel, including lab coat, eye protection, gloves and using a bio-safety cabinet with filter,” according to Col. Amy Hannah, a spokesperson for U.S. Forces Korea.

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Outpouring of Support for Pets Stuck in Texas Floods

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

The devastation has stretched to four-legged victims.

Florida Pilot Arrested After Plane Strikes a Shed

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

A Florida man was arrested Wednesday after the plane he was piloting struck a shed, authorities said.

Hundreds of Missing SAT Tests Force Students to Retake Them

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — High school students are getting ready to put their school work behind them and start summer vacation — but hundreds of students at Loudoun County Schools in Virginia won’t be able to do that.

Some 300 SAT tests got lost in the mail and didn’t get back to College Board, according to a statement from the non-profit.

A Loudoun County School official told ABC News Thursday that their test proctors did everything by the book, including shipping the tests using the UPS label and box that College Board provides.

Junior Chris Unger took the test on May 2 at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virigina.

“I think the worst part of this is College Board never officially told us our tests were lost,” the 17-year-old told ABC News. “Even an email would’ve been better than not hearing. I kept checking my online portal for scores and they never came.”

Unger said he feels “gipped” because he walked out of the test feeling confident. He spent dozens of hours studying and he said his parents paid for specialized tutoring sessions on top of the $52.50 registration fee.

Now, the students have a mandatory make-up test date on June 20, the weekend after their final exams. Unger said he wasn’t sure if they had to pay another registration fee.

Loudoun County Schools regularly proctor standardized tests in their 15 high schools and a district official told ABC News this situation is “clearly an anomaly.”

Unger said he got his scores “just fine” when he took the SAT in the beginning of the year.

“I wanted to use this round of scores to see if I need to take it a third time,” said Unger.

“This might mess with people who are applying to colleges for early admission,” he added.

The May 2 test scores should have been released on May 21, according to the SAT website.

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Why Some Students Have to Retake Their SATs

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Hundreds of SAT tests went missing from a high school in Virginia. The students have to take it again on their summer vacation.

Mysterious Oil Spill Prompts Officials to Close California Beach

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

The news comes a week after an oil pipeline ruptured in Santa Barbara.

Jury to Watch Videos of James Holmes’ Psychiatric Interviews

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — Videos of Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes’ psychiatric interviews will be shown in court Thursday as part of the fourth week of the ongoing movie theater trial.

The videos are a critical piece of evidence in the case as Holmes and his attorneys have pleaded that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, while the prosecution is working to prove that he was sane when he opened fire and killed 12 people in the July 2012 shooting.

There are 22 hours of interviews in total and they were conducted at the state mental health facility in Pueblo, Colorado after his arrest.

The way in which they will be presented to the jury was a debated issue, with the prosecution successfully arguing that they be shown in parts rather than all in one, as the defense had originally hoped.

Thursday marks the 20th day of the trial and the videos have been one of the most highly anticipated pieces of evidence.

Earlier this week, the court heard from Holmes’ journal where he wrote about selecting a movie theater as the target for his shooting as opposed to an airport, which he decided had too much security.

Survivors and first responders have been among the dozens of witnesses called to testify about the scene inside the movie theater on the night of the shooting.

Holmes faces the death penalty.

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7-Year-Old Boy Recalls Day He Was Shot

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Second-grader was shot while riding his bike in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

What Past National Spelling Bee Winners Are Up to Today

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News chatted with four past National Spelling Bee Winners winners, all grown up, who shared what they’re up to today.

Santorum ???Sickened??? by Josh Duggar Molestation Allegations

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he was ???sickened??? by allegations that reality TV star Josh Duggar molested underage girls when he was a teenager.

Parts of Great Plains Brace for More Rain Amid Cleanup Efforts

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Millions of Americans in the Great Plains are bracing for more rain and severe weather after being battered for days by powerful storms that are being blamed for several deaths.

Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect Thursday for parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the latter of which has already been devastated by flooding. In fact, it’s the worst flooding the Lone Star State has seen since 2007, according to Jesse Moore, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’ve been in a drought here for the last five or six years and now we’re getting a lot of rain, which you know everybody was praying for rain. But, at this point, I think almost all of us are saying ok we’ve had enough. We can use a dry period,” Moore says.

But it will be a while before that dry period can begin

“We’re looking at 2 to 4 inches across the area,” Moore notes. “We have several rounds of thunderstorms, with the biggest round expected to occur over the weekend.”

He says a number of rivers in Texas are near or over flood levels and will stay that way through the weekend.

“The Trinity and the Brazos rivers are the ones that are major concerns. There’s of course flooding also on the Sabine River up in northeast Texas, and of course some flooding along the Red River as well,” Moore says.

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5 Things to Know This Morning: Not a Fairy Tale

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Your look at the five biggest and most buzz-worthy stories of the morning.

Video Captures Shooting of Second-Grader in Massachusetts

Posted on: May 28th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(DORCHESTER, Mass.) — Authorities in Massachusetts pleaded for help from the public Wednesday as a 7-year-old remained hospitalized after being hit by a stray bullet while riding his bike.

“If you have information, holding onto it only helps the suspect,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement. “The person who shot Divan needs to be held accountable.”

Divan Silva, a second-grader from Brockton, Massachusetts, was visiting family in Dorchester when he decided to ride to the store for water early Sunday evening. Private surveillance video captured the moment he was shot and the aftermath.

In the video, Divan comes around a street corner on his bicycle and soon after starts holding his leg as he passes in front of a barbershop.

He then is shown rolling off the bike and looking under his left thigh as blood stains the sidewalk. Police said Divan was shot in the buttocks. A 20-year-old man was also grazed in the head by a bullet. The window front of the barbershop was shattered.

Divan’s mother, Dijanira DeAndrade, said she heard the gunshots and then ran outside to check on Divan with her mom.

“It was very emotional to see my son like that,” she told the Boston Globe Tuesday. “He couldn’t move. I was holding him. He was just looking at me and I was talking to him.”

Divan reportedly had surgery Sunday and was attempting to walk Monday and Tuesday. He was said to be in good condition at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“He’s laughing. He’s playing around,” Divan’s father, Vandir Silva, told ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston. “I really didn’t know what to do. … I was at work and then somebody called me, saying my son got shot. … I had no idea what was going on.”

Authorities said a group of men was standing in front of the barbershop at the time of the shooting but police said they did not know who the target was. Authorities said the shooter was wearing a red hoodie and tan pants, and was between the ages of 14 and 18.

“This is inexcusable,” said Boston Police Superintendent William Gross. “This is our community.”

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Father of Suspect in DC Mansion Fire Wants Perp to ‘Suffer the Consequences’

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

The violence was no indication of the “values that my family embraces,” he said.

Penn State Kicks Embroiled Fraternity Off Campus For Three Years

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Treese/iStock/Thinkstock(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — The Pennsylvania State University fraternity that came under fire for allegedly posting pictures of nude women on Facebook has been shut down for three years.

The move by university officials comes after Kappa Delta Rho was suspended in March by a student-led council for allegedly posting nude and partially nude photos of women online. The women were often sleeping or unconscious in the images.

“We base this decision on the sum of misbehaviors exhibited by various members of Kappa Delta Rho,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State. “Not every member of the chapter was equally culpable for violation of the University’s expectations for recognized student organizations,” 

The university found evidence of hazing, sexual misconduct and harassment at the fraternity. According to the university’s investigation, pledges were required to create stories with pornographic images and a “sex position of the day.” The investigation into the fraternity was spurred by a member who reportedly flagged the fraternity’s private Facebook page, called “2.0,” to local police.

Sims overturned the March decision by the Interfraternity council (IFC), a student-led group, which suggested the fraternity be suspended for one year and attend sexual assault and bystander intervention trainings. Sims said the fraternity’s behaviors “compel a stronger response.”  

In a letter to the IFC, Sims also said the investigation uncovered physical and emotional abuse of fraternity members in routine hazing, and also “brought to light the persistent harassment of two female students, who were degraded through multiple postings to the organization’s private site over an extended period.”

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Mom Calls for Better Support for Trans Teens After Son’s Suicide

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

A Vista, California mother is calling for broader, better support for transgender teenagers after recently losing her trans son to suicide.

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A Georgia man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

The U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of Georgia announced the plea in a press release Wednesday. The FBI says Leon Nathan Davis, 37, attempting to join ISIS for more than a year. Davis was arrested at an Atlanta airport in October 2014 on a parole violation after having purchased a plane ticket to Turkey.

Davis could face up to 15 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised relief and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced after the U.S. Probation Office conducts a pre-sentence investigation.

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How a California Woman Fell in Love With a Vatican Guard

Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

A woman from California wasn’t expecting to meet the love of her life in Italy.