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Louisiana police close down identity theft ring

Police in Louisiana have taken six people into custody and are searching for two others in connection with an identity theft ring. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office says that the group rummaged through garbage cans outside a Hammond loan business to find documents containing sensitive information. The scheme is said to have been in operation for about a year and 45 victims have been identified so far according to media accounts.

Deputies began their investigation in May after receiving reports of fraudulent credit card transactions, and they soon traced these transactions to a 41-year-old man and his 37-year-old wife. Further investigations are said to have revealed that the couple worked with several others to gather credit card numbers and other financial information. Charges filed against the group include identity theft, access device fraud and conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

Louisiana bicyclist killed in truck crash

On July 26, a 31-year-old Louisiana man was killed when a pickup truck struck the bicycle he was riding. The accident occurred in Acadia Parish.

According to the Louisiana State Police, the victim was riding his bike west on Louisiana Highway 100, east of Louisiana Highway 3070, around 5:30 a.m. when he was hit by an eastbound Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The driver of the truck, an 18-year-old man from Crowley, was passing other eastbound vehicles in a legal passing zone when the crash occurred.

Changes to qui tam rules may be forthcoming

If the Securities and Exchange Commission recovers money because of the actions of a whistleblower, that person could be entitled to up to 30 percent of the amount recovered. This is meant to provide incentive for Louisiana residents to speak up when they suspect illegal activity is taking place. However, a new proposed rule would give the SEC more power to either increase or reduce an award as it sees fit.

If the rule were to take effect, it is thought to impact awards of more than $30 million. In cases where a whistleblower would normally be entitled to that much money, the SEC could reduce the award if it didn't believe a person's information was valuable. According to a member of the SEC, the top priority of the program is the whistleblower. Without a monetary reward, the number of people who may point out illegal behavior may be smaller, which could make it harder to discover such activity.

Autonomous technology could make motorcycles safer

Motorcyclists around the country are killed 28 times more often than passenger vehicle occupants according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Automobile parts suppliers and technology companies are working to make motorcycles safer, and some of the autonomous electronic systems that many of the latest cars, pickup trucks and SUVs are equipped with may soon be available for Louisiana residents who prefer to travel on two wheels instead of four.

German parts manufacturer Bosch has announced that it is adapting driver-assistance systems like adaptive cruise control for use on motorcycles, and similar systems are being developed by the technology startups Damon X Labs and Ride Vision. Business journals have reported that the Israel-based Ride Vision has already secured more than $2 million in funding to develop inexpensive autonomous motorcycle systems that use forward and rear-facing cameras to provide 360 degree coverage.

How motorcyclists can avoid the dangers of left turns

There is nothing quite like packing up your motorcycle and getting away from it all. Being on the open road on a machine that is so responsive to your movements puts you in a state of Zen. Control of the bike is yours, but of course, you can't control for other's negligence.

According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 1 in 36 people in the U.S. owns a motorcycle. With so many motorcycles on the road, especially in the summer months, now is a great time to talk about one of a rider's greatest threats: left turns.

Summer sees higher risk for distracted driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there's a 20 percent increase in the number of miles traveled every summer. This makes sense because more people are out on vacations and holiday celebrations. At the same time, NHTSA states that the months of June, July and August witness a 29 percent increase in the number of road deaths. Louisiana residents may wonder what the main factor behind it is.According to the Travelers Institute, that main factor is distracted driving. During its newly launched Every Second Matters™ event, which took place on Capitol Hill back in June, Travelers referred to some recent data from the smartphone telematics platform TrueMotion.

Researchers analyzed sensor data from a distracted driving app called TrueMotion Family, covering the period of January 2017 to May 2018. In total, more than 20,000 drivers were analyzed for 8.4 million trips. They were found to look down at their phones the most during summertime. In fact, from June to August they spent an average of 15 minutes out of every hour on the road distracted.

Smartphones considered a factor in rise of pedestrian fatalities

Louisiana motorists and pedestrians may be interested to learn that distracted driving could be a major factor in the increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities. While overall traffic fatalities have risen by 11 percent since 2009, pedestrian fatalities have increased by 46 percent in the same time period.

The problem with determining just how much impact distracted driving has had on the rise in pedestrian deaths is that it is difficult to track. Many motorists will not admit that they were distracted when the accident occurred, but a small number of indicators lead experts to believe that distracted driving could be a culprit. There have been many reports of drivers using their smartphones to make phone calls, read emails and send texts while they are in control of a vehicle. It was even noted that manufacturer infotainment systems could be a problem as they have been found to be distracting on some level.

Common causes of motorcyclists getting hit

It is a great fear of motorcyclists: Getting hit and injured by another vehicle. Unfortunately, this nightmare situation ends up being a reality for far too many motorcyclists here in Louisiana. Serious and potentially fatal injuries can come out of such crashes.

Many collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles come out of a driver violating a motorcyclist’s right of way. We’ll now go over three common causes of such violations:

Should I file a qui tam lawsuit?

Imagine you are a nurse at a local hospital. Recently, you’ve noticed several doctors ordering unnecessary tests for patients – think MRI or CT scan. You mention it to your supervisor, but nothing is happening. You know it is illegal, but what can you do?

You might be able to file a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act. However, before filing anything in court, you need to understand the basics of the act and its effects on whistleblowers.

$90,000 award for no-knock raid on wrong house affirmed

Knocking on the wrong door can be embarrassing, but when the police knock on the wrong door, embarrassment does not adequately describe the reaction of the people who live in the house. When a sheriff's office SWAT team executed a no-knock warrant on the wrong house in Labadieville in 2013, the result was an award of $90,000 in damages to the family whose home was wrongly entered. The award was recently affirmed by a Louisiana appellate court.

The state police obtained a search warrant in connection with the investigation of drug crimes that entitled it to enter a home without knocking or otherwise alerting the occupants. The warrant was signed by a judge and contained the address of the house that police intended to search. Unfortunately, the Assumption Parish Sheriff's SWAT team executed the warrant using a verbal description of the target residence as "the second house on the right," which was the wrong house. After police forced their way into the home, they hand-cuffed the two adults and four children. The father testified that he was afraid that burglars had entered his home and that he thought they intended to murder him, his wife and his children. The raid was halted when one of the officers recognized the father as a personal acquaintance and realized that police had entered the wrong house.