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Two of R Kelly’s lawyers move to quit case as racketeering trial nears

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Two top lawyers for R Kelly are moving to withdraw from his case, citing internal disputes with other lawyers, less than nine weeks before they were set to represent Mr Kelly, the disgraced R&B star, in his criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

In a letter to the judge this week, the lawyers, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, wrote that they had significant reasons to depart the case, writing that it would be “impossible” for them to continue to represent Kelly. The decision emerged, they said, as tensions erupted between them and two other members of the legal team who joined the case later and were now seeking a more prominent role in the trial.

At a hearing Wednesday, the two sides hurled criticisms at one another, with Greenberg questioning the aptitude of Mr Kelly’s newer lawyers, who shot back that his comments were out of line.

The attempted shift in Mr Kelly’s legal representation is the latest twist in the run-up to the singer’s long-awaited trial on racketeering charges, which is scheduled to begin August 9th in New York. Mr Kelly said at the hearing that he was in support of the change.

Judge Ann Donnelly did not immediately rule on the matter Wednesday, instead requesting more detailed information in writing about the two lawyers’ set of complaints. “The thing to do is to put some of this in a letter to the court,” Ms Donnelly said after interrupting Greenberg as he delved into his frustrations. After a letter comes, she said, a decision would follow promptly. Mr Kelly’s indictment, filed in US District Court in Brooklyn, accuses him of being the leader of a criminal enterprise that included his managers, bodyguards, drivers and members of his entourage.

The enterprise recruited women and underage girls for illegal sexual contact and then isolated and threatened them to keep them under control and prevent them from going to the authorities, the indictment alleges. If convicted, Mr Kelly, who also faces federal charges of pornography and obstruction in Chicago, could face up to 20 years in prison. On Wednesday, Ms Donnelly said the trial date would not be postponed despite the possible late upheaval.

Agitation

“It sounds like nobody is asking for an adjournment of trial, which I wouldn’t grant in any event,” the judge said. Greenberg had represented Mr Kelly (54) since 2018, before he was charged in the criminal case. But both he and Mr Leonard said their joint departure was spurred by agitation with two other lawyers on the case, who they said lack trial experience at the federal level and began to demand a larger, more forward-facing role in the trial.

“Frankly, everyone wants to be first chair, everyone wants to do opening, everyone wants to do closing,” Mr Greenberg said at the hearing, “and that just can’t be.” The two had twice sought to discuss those concerns with Mr Kelly, Mr Greenberg said. But the singer rejected both attempts to meet with him. “It’s unfortunate because these other people are clueless,” Mr Greenberg said in an interview. “But that’s his choice. You can’t save someone from themselves.”

During the hearing, one of the two lawyers who joined the case later, Nicole Becker, called those comments “inappropriate” on the whole. In a statement, she and the fourth lawyer, Thomas Farinella, said that the matter should have been moot: Mr Kelly had already terminated the two others from the case last week, they said.

When asked by the judge if he wanted to move forward with just half of his legal team, Mr Kelly responded, “Absolutely, yes, ma’am.” Becker and Farinella did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment after the hearing. Mr Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction charges is set to begin September 13th.

Since his arrest in July 2019, Kelly has been held in a federal detention facility in Chicago. He is expected to be moved to New York closer to the trial date, as a prosecutor said his lawyers wanted him to remain in Illinois for as long as possible. – New York Times

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Serravalle Designer Outlet unveils new state-of-the-art leisure facility (IT)

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McArthurGlen has officially launched the “Play Land”, a brand new 6,000m² leisure concept at Designer Outlet Serravalle. The €7m attraction introduces a new state-of-the-art experiential element to the centre that further enhances the shopping experience for guests of all ages. Part of the centre’s €40m investment programme, Play Land launches alongside six new stores that are home to renowned luxury and F&B brands, including Off WhiteValentinoZegna and Starbucks. The iconic names join recent international arrival Givenchy to further elevate the centre’s reputation as one of Europe’s premier luxury destinations. The enhancements have created around 100 new jobs and also delivered wider improvements to the centre’s hospitality offering, including to its VIP lounges, guest services, landscaping and car parks.

 

This latest investment signals McArthurGlen’s commitment to the region that welcomed it over 20 years ago. Situated in the heart of Alessandria, the centre was the first designer outlet to arrive in Italy in 2000, and today has more than 240 stores spread across over 50,000m² of GLA, making it the largest luxury outlet in Europe by retail space. 

 

“We firmly believe in the value of the physical retail experience and that has always been at the heart of McArthurGlen,” said Joan Jove, Co-CEO of McArthurGlen, addingTogether with our long-standing investor partners from the European Outlet Mall Fund, we are thrilled to bring this new experiential element to our customers at Serravalle and introduce a cutting-edge facility that can be of benefit to the whole community.”

 

Anchoring the facility is Lele’s Aqua Park, which is a brand new concept in the McArthurGlen portfolio. Featuring a bespoke design, the 3,500m² waterpark features a variety of activities, including slides, water cannons and a large waterfall, designed to maximise the fun for children and enhance the day-out experience for families. The Playground, inspired by the work of the famous Dutch artist M.C Escher, spans approximately 2,500m² and consists of platforms and hexagonal towers in a labyrinth of interconnected play spaces. The play village includes a structure inspired by the small villages set in the beautiful Piedmontese landscape, aiming to create a world in which children can immerse themselves in exploration and discovery, while at all times remaining inclusive for those with disabilities. Flora’s Baby park is a new service offered to families while they are shopping at the centre. It enables parents and guardians to leave their children to play among a range of adventure activities, including a small vertical maze, which are supervised and assisted at all times by experienced staff. Designed specifically for the whole family is the Picnic Area, which provides a welcoming space set up with comfortable tables and chairs. Guests can relax in this environment while taking advantage of the centre’s excellent mix of F&B operators. 

  

The investment enhances Serravalle Designer Outlet’s sustainability credentials with new green spaces, improved water consumption and solar panels, supporting McArthurGlen’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment. A newly planted garden comprising perennial plants and flowers encircles the leisure complex, creating a protective green belt around the family area that connects to the centre’s surrounding landscape. An integrated irrigation system reuses the water from the swimming pool, while two photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of the changing rooms and public toilets provide energy from renewable sources.  

 

McArthurGlen’s long-standing partner Hydea designed the masterplan for the Family Entertainment Area, with sector specialistsCarve creating the Playground and Baby Park, and Cemi designing the waterpark.

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British ex-pat, 67, is forced to DESTROY his Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

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A British ex-pat has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer.

But the situation for 67-year-old Gurney Davey, from Suffolk, could get worse because he is facing six months in prison after a mayor illegally gave him planning permission for the house.

‘I was distraught at first, my blood pressure was sky high and then I lost my wife,’ Mr Davey said this week as he was demolishing his home near Tolox, Malaga.

Gurney Davey, 67, has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

Gurney Davey, 67, has been forced to knock down his £130,000 Spanish home two months after his wife died from cancer

Despite Friday’s demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as ‘some sort of relief’ having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house he built in 2003. 

It was then that legal firm, Manzanares, informed him he would be getting a licence for an ‘almacen’ (or storeroom), which would allow him to build the house.

‘We thought we had done everything right. We got legal advice and went through a lawyer in order to get permission to build the home,’ Davey explained. 

But he was later told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence of his own.

Mr Davey was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71.

‘Diana fought breast cancer for six years before bowel cancer – I am sure the stress brought it on.’ 

‘But thankfully it is now over,’ he explained. ‘It has been going on for so long now, I’ve finally come to terms with what needs to be done. 

‘Having it demolished was actually a relief,’ he added.

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it – just not in a house.

Despite Friday's demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as 'some sort of relief' having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house be built in 2003. Pictured: Mr Davey's home in Spain before it was demolished on Friday

Despite Friday’s demolition also costing him €1,600, he added that it had actually come as ‘some sort of relief’ having fought the legal battle since 2004, over the house be built in 2003. Pictured: Mr Davey’s home in Spain before it was demolished on Friday

Mr Davey was told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence. Pictured: Mr Davey's home in Spain after it was demolished on Friday

Mr Davey was told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who was eventually handed a prison sentence. Pictured: Mr Davey’s home in Spain after it was demolished on Friday

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs still have the space to roam.

‘This land is my home, it is my life and these dogs are all I have left.’

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed.

The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour’s house.

‘I went straight to Tolox town hall with it. They told me I shouldn’t have received it yet,’ he recalled. ‘They said they were going to be sending the notification to me once they had stamped it.’

He had never been told about the court case that followed on from a Guardia Civil denuncia for an ‘illegal build’, but Davey’s two-bed home should never have been built according to the Malaga court.

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs (pictured) still have the space to roam

Now, the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs (pictured) still have the space to roam

In 2016, and then again in 2017, Davey was ordered to knock down his house, but, in common with a neighbour, he waited for more details.

While his Spanish neighbour, Irene Millan, 29, did eventually hear from the court again, she was given six months to ‘legalise’ her property – an option Davey was never given.

However, his neighbour’s apparent good luck turned into a poisoned chalice.

Having spent €20,000 with the town hall to legalise the dwelling, the court finally refused to accept the new paperwork provided by the council.

Instead, demolition was ordered – which went ahead last week.

To add insult to injury Irene’s 54-year-old father, Manuel Millan, whose name was on the deeds, was also sentenced to six months jail and handed a fine of €6 a day for a year.

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed. The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour's house

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed. The ex-pat only found out about the potential six-month sentence when a court document was delivered to a neighbour’s house

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it - just not in a house. Pictured: Mr Davey, a former builder, uses a JCB digger to demolish his own home

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it – just not in a house. Pictured: Mr Davey, a former builder, uses a JCB digger to demolish his own home

The couple, originally from Suffolk in the UK, spent £130,000 building their property.

‘It came as a package – a plot with a new home on it.’

Davey admits he and his wife were perhaps naive to follow the advice of their lawyer.

The lawyer, from legal firm Manzanares, told them that planning permission would be applied for as an almacen – or ‘warehouse’.

Mr Davey (pictured) was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71

Mr Davey (pictured) was told his house had to be demolished for himself to avoid a six-month prison sentence, with the news coming just after his wife, Diana, died from bowel cancer at the age of 71

This way it would come under the remit of Tolox town hall, which would give permission and later they could ‘legalise’ the property.

The language of one legal letter suggests this would be a mere formality, but the property never got legalised.

In fact, the Tolox mayor of the time, Juan Vera, has since been jailed and fined for his part in a scheme.

In most cases the mayor used the very same ‘lax’ procedure of applying to build an ‘almacen’ to try to keep the prying eyes of the Junta authorities away.

‘We thought that was the way things worked in Spain,’ said Davey, a retired builder. ‘We went to see a lawyer and got advice. It turns out that was not the smart thing to do.

‘Why would we deliberately try to build illegally? It makes no sense that we would sell up everything in the UK and risk it all.’

Mr Davey had earlier said that he was forced to ask the town hall for permission to knock his own property down.

‘I will do it myself. I will borrow a JCB from someone and flatten my home of the past 17 years. I will not let the town hall do it and charge me more money.’

It is not the first time British expats have had their homes demolished in Andalucia, with the Priors, in Almeria, the most famous victims.

They still live in the garage of their house today, over 10 years since the house was knocked down in Vera. 

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Two teenagers died after separate incidents in Dublin and Waterford

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Two teenagers have died after separate incidents in Dublin and Waterford on Wednesday.

Gardaí in Ballyfermot responded to a call at an equestrian centre at Tay Lane, Co Dublin, at about 2pm.

Dublin Fire Brigade and the National Ambulance Service attended the scene and provided medical assistance to a 15-year-old girl who was injured during an exercise event.

She was removed to Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, where she later died.

Gardaí said the coroner has been notified. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has also been notified and will carry out an examination on Thursday.

Gardaí said investigations are ongoing. A file will be prepared for the Coroner’s Court.

Separately, gardaí and emergency services attended the scene of a workplace accident in Dungarvan, Co Waterford on Wednesday afternoon.

A boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSA has been notified and will carry out an investigation. A file will be prepared for the coroner.

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