Tennessee Archives:

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) — A Tennessee high school teacher was indicted on three counts of statutory rape on Thursday after she allegedly had sex with three underage students, U.S. prosecutors said. She faces more than 50 years in prison.

Stacy Hopkins, 28, was arrested in early May after her ex-boyfriend contacted the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to report that her ex-girlfriend had sent inappropriate text messages to two Arlington High School students, where Hopkins worked as a teacher since August 2005.

Upon further investigation, police determined Hopkins had sent nude, sexually explicit images to two underage students and engaged in sexual intercourse with three underage students at various times in the course of a year. The victims were two 17-year-old male students and a 16-year-old male student.

On Thursday, the Shelby County District Attorney General said Hopkins has been indicted with three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, which is a Class C felony, and two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means.

If convicted on all counts, Hopkins faces at least 11 years imprisonment and a maximum of 57 years. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office previously said Hopkins had confessed to having sex with the students.

The age of consent in Tennessee is 18.

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA (BNO NEWS) — Two Muslim religious leaders were removed from an Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight on Friday after they were told the pilot refused to fly them.

Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were supposed to travel on Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 5452 from Memphis, Tennessee to Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday morning. They were traveling to attend a conference of the North American Imam Federation to address prejudice against Muslims.

“The pilot said I have to go back to the gate again. We were very cooperative and said, ‘it is okay.’ They checked our luggage. They checked our everything,” Rahman told WCNC-TV. Both men were dressed in traditional long shirts and have beards.

“Then the pilot said, ‘no, no, no. I’m not taking them’,” Rahman explained to the Charlotte-based TV station, adding that he would have undergone another security check if asked. “We are Americans. We are living in America. We want the security of America,” he said.

Mo Idlibi, an attorney for the men, told reporters that they want to see better training about discrimination for pilots. “I think we can take this negative opportunity and turn it into a positive one,” Idlibi said. The men are also considering a lawsuit against the airline.

In a statement, Atlantic Southeast Airlines said the men were removed from the plane for ‘additional screening.’ “We take security and safety very seriously, and the event is currently under investigation,” the statement said, adding that compensation and re-accommodation were offered.

The number of incidents labeled as Islamophobia, which is a prejudice against Islam or Muslims, has sharply increased since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. It was not immediately clear if Friday’s incident was linked to Islamophobia.

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SMYRNA, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) — A small two-engine airplane on Friday crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee killing at least one person although initial reports had said three had been killed, officials said.

The Smyrna Police Department told WSMV that no one survived the incident in which the small plane crashed between 3 and 4 miles south of the city, behind the Smyrna’s Lifepoint Church on Almaville Road.

The Federal Aviation Administration also confirmed that there were no survivors, adding that the twin-engine Cessna 310 aircraft belongs to Hudson Management Corporation of Oxford, Mississippi. The aircraft had taken off at around 2 p.m. local time.

According to Police Officer Bobby Gibson, the plane suddenly began descending, clipping treetops, before nose diving into the empty field.

The FAA the cause of the accident remains unknown.

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) — The Tennessee Titans on Thursday announced that they would be parting ways with head coach Jeff Fisher after 16 seasons, the team’s official site reported.

“We will be forever appreciative of Jeff Fisher’s leadership and accomplishments through his time with our franchise,” the team said. “We reached some of our greatest heights and experienced some unforgettable moments during his tenure.”

According to the Titans’ statement, the team had numerous discussions on the direction of the team and previously announced that they would be going into next season with Fisher, completing the final year of his contract.

However, the statement said “it became evident that consensus was increasingly hard to find and reality wasn’t matching the vision we discussed.”

“It is unfortunate that this decision is coming at this juncture, but we believe that we have reached the point where change is in the best interest of both parties,” the Titans stated, adding that they would begin searching for a new head coach on Friday.

Fisher, 52, of Culver City, California, who began his NFL coaching career in 1985, became the Tennessee Titans’ head coach in 1994, having the longest tenure as head coach with one team among active head coaches at the time of the announcement.

After 16 seasons, Fisher finished with a 142-120 record, and a 5-6 postseason record with the Titans.

In 1999, Fisher led the Titans to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance after winning the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans lost the Super Bowl to the St. Louis Rams 23-16 after wide receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of a what would have been a game-winning touchdown as time had expired.

“I want to thank Mr. Adams and the organization for a special 17 years,” Fisher said. “I can’t thank the fans enough for the support they showed us through the years; it has been a tremendous experience.”

“We all did our very best and I think I can look back with fond memories and be very proud of what we accomplished. I want to wish the organization, the current players and the fans nothing but the best in the future.”

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) — The Tennessee Titans on Wednesday announced that quarterback Vince Young will not be returning with the team next season, the team’s official website reported.

“I talked with Vince’s agent Tom Condon today and informed him that Vince will not figure into the club’s plans for next season,” the Titans’ general manager Mike Reinfeldt said, adding that until he would be able to rehab his injury in the team’s facility or any where else until he can be officially waived.

Young, 27, of Houston, Texas, joined the Tennessee Titans after being selected as the third overall pick in the NFL’s 2006 draft. His NFL rookie season was as successful as his college career – which ended with the University of Texas retiring his jersey in the beginning of the 2008 season – being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and earning a spot in the Pro Bowl.

After a relative successful start this season, leading the Titans during the first 8 games to a 5-3 record, in week 11, he suffered an injury on his right thumb,which forced coaches to bench for the rest of the game. After the game, Young had an altercation with coach Jeff Fisher in the locker room after he threw his pads into the crowd.

In his five seasons, the 6 foot 5, 230 pound quarterback has thrown 42 touchdowns and 8,098 yards with a quarterback rating of 75.4. In addition he has rushed for 1,380 yards scoring 12 rushing touchdowns. He has also thrown the same amount of interceptions, 42, as touchdowns.

Under league rules, Young’s contract cannot be terminated until February 7 when waivers begin for the new season. Similarly, he cannot be traded to another club until trading begins on the first day of the league year.

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) — The Tennessee Titans on Wednesday claimed Wide Receiver Randy Moss, one day after he was surprisingly waived by the Minnesota Vikings.

Moss, 33, was traded from the New England Patriots to the Vikings on October 6 for a 2011 third-round draft pick. However, he was put on the waiver wire after catching 13 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns in four games with the Vikings. Minnesota lost three of that four games.

The Titans expects that Moss reports to the team soon but if he does not, the team will send him a “5-day” letter and at the end of that five days, they have the right to put him on the Reserve/Left Squad list.

If he declines to play for the Titans and Moss is put on the Reserve/Left Squad list, the All-star wide receiver would be out for the remainder of the season. Once the season is over, his status for next year would be determined by terms of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Moss is the logical replacement for the team’s injured number 1 receiver, Kenny Britt, who pulled a hamstring in San Diego and is expected to miss several games. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher likes his ability to make catches in traffic and going up for the ball.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said this morning that the acquisition of Moss a poor decision. The release of Moss was more related to his off-field behavior than his statistics and on-field performance. Last Friday, Moss berated a caterer who brought food to the locker room after practice.

However, Moss’ latest rant is what reportedly cost him his spot on the Vikings. Last Sunday after the 28-18 loss against his former team New England, Moss praised Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick and criticized Vikings’ coaches for not listening to his game plan input. During the game, Moss showed little effort in many plays.

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (BNO NEWS) – A former bank employee was sentenced to over 2 years in prison for helping a co-conspirator to steal $17 million from bank, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington said on Friday.

Sissaye Gezachew, 32, of Springfield, Virginia, worked as an assistant vice president-senior credit analyst at United Bank during the time frame of the scheme. From 2007 to 2009, he assisted Ossama El-Atari, 31, of Ashburn, Virginia, to defraud the United Bank among others throughout the U.S.

Gezachew supplied El-Atari with fraudulent documents, including a fraudulent tax return, and setting up fake domain names and e-mail accounts from his co-conspirator to submit to the bank in support of the fraudulently obtained loans.

In December 2007, El-Atari and Gezachew discuss a $5 million loan sought by El-Atari to buy additional steakhouses in Maryland. However, Gezachew informed him that his balance sheet did not add up.

El-Atari acknowledged that his purported collateral, his life insurance policy, was false too. The former bank employee offered to help El-Atari “tighten up” his documentation. After that, El-Atari used the same procedure to obtain loans from six different banks in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland.

Initially, Gezachew was paid $150,000 for his assistance which caused nearly $18 million in fraudulent loans from United Bank. In the other occasions, El-Atari paid him in increments of $5,000 to $9,999 for falsifying other documents.

Overall, El-Atari stole over $53 million from the banks thanks to the documents manipulated by Gezachew which fraudulently claimed that the steakhouse owner had more than $20 million in life insurance policies.

Gezachew was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment (2 and half years) and was also ordered to pay $18 million in restitution to United Bank. El-Atari was previously sentenced to 144 months in prison (12 years) for operating the fraud scheme.

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (BNO NEWS) – An Ashburn, Virginia man was sentenced on Friday to 12 years (144 months) in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for operating a $53 million bank fraud throughout the United States, prosecutors said.

Osama El-Atari, 31, was sentenced on three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering and was also ordered to pay $53 million in restitution gained through his fraud scheme. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

“Osama El-Atari’s greed has earned him 12 years behind bars. Especially in today’s economy, we are committed to combating financial fraud and putting those who cheat the financial industry in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.

El-Atari admitted defrauding banks in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland. In order to accomplish his fraud he presented the banks with fraudulent life insurance policies as collateral to obtain loans.

The defendant used fake domain names, fake federal express mailings and fake e-mails in order to convince the banks that his collateral was authentic.

El-Atari used the fraudulent proceeds to purchase a multi-million dollar home in Ahsburn and several luxury cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris. In May 2009, he fled the U.S. but was later captured in Texas last January.

“El-Atari defrauded banks for tens of millions of dollars and used his ill-gotten gains to purchase expensive homes and exotic sports cars, but ultimately he could not outrun the law,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Henry.

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OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI (BNO NEWS) – A Memphis, Tennessee man was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years for robbing twice a bank in Southaven, Mississippi, prosecutors said.

Larry Darnell Norman, 37, pleaded guilty this week to a three-count indictment charging him with armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during the robbery.

Norman robbed the same bank twice in June 2008. In addition, the defendant used a handgun to commit the armed robberies of the Merchants and Farmers Bank in Southaven. During the crime, Norman brandished the gun, putting into jeopardy the lives of the bank employees.

The judge ordered Norman to serve 216 months (18 years) in prison for each armed robbery count, with the sentences to run concurrently. In addition he was sentenced to seven years behind bars for the firearm account, for a total of 25 years of imprisonment.

Norman will also have to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Merchants and Farmers Bank. Finally, the judge ordered him to serve five years of supervised release after completion of his prison time.

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (BNO NEWS) – Former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found dead on Wednesday on a wooden area at Hacks Cross and Winchester in southeast Memphis after being unaccounted for 10 days, Commercial Appeal reported.

Wright, a Memphis native, was reported missing on July 19. The body was found after someone called the police. The Memphis Police Department did not make any official announcement but commented they are referring the case as death investigation.

The former Memphis Grizzlies center recently flew from Atlanta to Memphis to visit friends and his six children. He was supposed to return to Atlanta on July 19. However, he was last seen exiting his ex-wife’s residence at about 2 a.m. local time.

Sherra Robinson Wright, the former player’s ex-wife, said she does not know who he left with or in what car he left. Wright was thought to be carrying large amounts of money as he was leaving his ex-wife’s Collierville home.

Law enforcement agents are focusing the investigation on a 911 hang-up call from Wright’s cellphone made on July 19. Police also believes he may have been victim of foul play as no money was found along the body.

Wright played 13 years in the NBA, including five with the Memphis Grizzlies, after playing two seasons at the University of Memphis.

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