Spain’s government has granted pardons to nine instigators of an illegal 2017 secession bid for Catalonia. The move on Tuesday is an attempt to defuse the festering political crisis in the nation’s affluent northeast. The decision by the left-wing government is controversial. Even some of Catalonia’s most fervent separatists say the pardons don’t go far enough. But it is supported by a large number of Catalans on both sides of the secession question who want to move forward. The beneficiaries include former Cabinet members and two grassroots activists. The act of grace does not extend to former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont after he fled to Belgium.
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Lawyers for an Italian woman wanted by the Vatican on embezzlement-related charges are asking the Italian government to intervene on her behalf. They want the Italian Embassy to the Holy See to press the pope’s prosecutors to decide whether to put her on trial or archive the case. The lawyers argue that intelligence analyst Cecilia Marogna hasn’t been able to find work or been able to support her young daughter since she was “illegally” arrested at the Vatican’s request in October. Vatican prosecutors have accused Marogna of embezzlement and misappropriation of Holy See funds. Marogna has said she was paid for legitimate intelligence and security work.
Former United Auto Workers president Gary Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison for scheming to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit sentenced the 64-year-old Jones on Thursday. Prosecutors sought 28 months in prison, lower than federal sentencing guidelines of 46 to 57 months. They cited Jones' acceptance of responsibility and cooperation in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe of the union. But they also said the sentence should be enough to deter future corruption. Jones' lawyer also pointed to his cooperation and said most of the crimes happened before he was named president. Jones apologized to the court, the union and his family and said he failed them.
Italian police have searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese as part of a Vatican investigation into a once-powerful cardinal accused of embezzling Holy See funds. Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu said any documentation seized would only serve to “confirm the absolute correctness of the behavior” of Becciu, the charity and the Sardinian diocese of Ozieri. Pope Francis sacked Becciu as head of the Vatican’s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September. He acted amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Vatican. Becciu denied any wrongdoing.
A Los Angeles nun who took a vow of poverty has agreed to plea guilty to federal charges for stealing more than $800,000 to pay for a gambling habit. The U.S. attorney's office says 79-year-old retired nun Mary Margaret Kreuper was charged Tuesday with wire fraud and money laundering. In her plea agreement, she acknowledged diverting about $835,000 while she was the principal of St. James Catholic School in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance. Prosecutors say she used the money for personal expenses, including credit card charges and large gambling expenses at casinos. She could face up to 40 years in prison.
The former CEO of Make-A-Wish Iowa has pleaded guilty to charges of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the charity that supports sick children and their families. Jennifer Woodley admitted in a written guilty plea last week that she made unauthorized charges on a foundation credit card, gave herself unapproved bonus and salary increases and made false entries in foundation records. The 40-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and one count of fraudulent practices. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of five years of probation, along with fines and restitution. A charging document alleged that Woodley’s embezzlement totaled nearly $41,000, but the amount of restitution has not yet been set.
A Kuwaiti court in an unprecedented move has ordered two former ministers and royal family members detained pending trial over their suspected misuse of the Defense Ministry's funds. When the scandal erupted into public view nearly two years ago, it unleashed a rare wave of street protests, prompted the Cabinet’s resignation and forced a reckoning in the country about endemic corruption. Now, Kuwait’s justice system is testing the government’s pledges to root out graft and hold ministers accountable for $790 million gone missing. Yet hopes for accountability remain low, with investigations stagnating over the years and Kuwait’s court criticized for letting ministers off the hook.
A former campaign manager for a veteran member of Congress has pleaded guilty to two federal counts alleging he stole more than $1.4 million from the campaign. Forty-one-year-old Jamie Schwartz appeared Friday in federal court in Cincinnati. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek a prison sentence longer than 32 months for Schwartz on charges of wire fraud and falsification of records. He has expressed remorse and agreed to pay back the embezzled money. U.S. District Judge Timothy Black didn't immediately set a sentencing date. An attorney for the Republican's campaign expressed gratitude to the federal authorities.