His Holiness v. “His Holiness”

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The College of Cardinals. / REUTERS

Vatican officials are threatening to sue an author, publisher and others over a new book on Vatican secrets and scandals that is based on leaked documents, the Associated Press reports.

The book, His Holiness by Gianluigi Nuzzi, exposes internal power struggles, communications with the powerful and well-connected in Italy and emails between Pope Benedict VI and the Vatican bank. It also reports on the Vatican’s response to scandals such as those surrounding the Legion of Christ. The order has gained notoriety in recent years with reports of a culture of pedophilia and sexual abuse set by its founder.

Earlier this year, the Pope created a task force of cardinals to track down the source of leaked emails exposing alleged corruption in the Vatican contracting office and mismanagement. He had threatened Nuzzi with legal action following previous articles that drew on leaked emails and letters to report on the efforts of a Vatican whistleblower to avoid assignment to Washington.

That whistleblower, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States.

Sweep to Vatican: New book of leaked documents “criminal”

In what appears to be a growing scandal over property tax assessments in some of California’s wealthiest communities, a former assessor for Los Angeles County was taken into custody Monday.

The assessor, Steven Schenter, had previously admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he had lowered the tax assessments on some 150 residential and commercial properties under pressure from his boss, County Assessor John Noguez.

In exchange for the reduced tax bill, he said, property owners showered Noguez with campaign contributions, and helped lower his post-election campaign debt. Noguez reportedly raised $1 million for his election bid, while his opponent raised only $50,000. Still, Noguez ended his campaign in debt.

He now faces 60 charges of falsifying public records.

“The magnitude or Schenter’s suspected betrayal of public trust is almost inconceivable,” the Times quoted Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley as saying. “We believe his actions are not isolated.”

Noguez has admitted to asking Schenter to “check the status” of certain properties and to help fundraise for his campaign, but he denies explicitly asking him to lower tax assessments.

Sweep to Ex-official arrested in L.A. County assessor corruption probe

The singer Jack White is keen to set an unusual record at his next show: the most metaphors in a single concert.

But Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie-Melvin might set an altogether less enviable record. She became the third sister in a single family to be charged with corruption as a public servant.

A grand jury in Allegheny County recommended Orie-Melvin face nine criminal counts Friday, in connection with charges she used her official staff to work on her election campaigns in 2003 and 2009. She was also charged with conspiracy to tamper with or fabricate evidence and theft of services.

Orie-Melvin’s sister, Pennsylvania State Senator Jane Orie, is awaiting sentencing for using her legislative staff to work on her campaigns. A third sister, Janine Orie, is also awaiting sentencing for her involvement in misusing official staff for her sisters’ campaigns.

Orie-Melvin was immediately removed from the bench, though she continues to collect her salary of nearly $200,000 a year.

Sweep to Justice Joan Orie-Melvin to step away from state Supreme Court to fight charges

This time, the message came through loud and clear.

A federal judge in Miami sentenced Jean Rene Duperval, a former official at Telecommunications D’Haiti, to nine years in prison for laundering some $500,000 in bribes he collected from U.S. companies, as part of a mushrooming investigation into bribery in Haiti’s telecom sector.

The investigation under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has already netted a record prison sentence for another former official of Haiti Teleco, Joel Esquenazi, who faces some 15 years in prison, the Miami Herald reports.

In exchange for the money, Duperval sold out the people of Haiti: He lowered the contract price for U.S. businesses and allowed them to charge higher rates. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Koukios noted that Duperval came from a wealthy family, and did not need the bribes. Testifying in his own behalf, Duperval contended the payments were not bribes at all, but “tokens of appreciation” for a job well done.

Now, it appears, Duperval is the one who is well done.

Sweep to Ex-Haiti official, 9 years in Telecom bribery case

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

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