Month: March 2016

Former CCC bridge police sergeant pleads guilty to negligent injury of his wife

A Metairie man pleaded guilty as charged to negligent injury on Wednesday (March 30), in connection a shooting in his home in which his wife was wounded.

David Kramer Jr., 46, formerly a sergeant with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s Crescent City Connection police unit, was ordered to serve six months of inactive probation, after the judge deferred a six-month jail sentence. He admitted he injured his wife on Oct. 24.

After reviewing the evidence in the case, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office elected to file a bill of information in the 24th Judicial District Court charging Kramer with the misdemeanor offense of negligent injury on March 22.

Before accepting the guilty plea on Wednesday, Judge Glenn Ansardi heard testimony from Kramer’s wife. She testified that she and her husband since 2008 argued over a photograph found on his cellular phone. That lead to her request that he sleep elsewhere that night, she testified.

As he was retrieving his personal firearm from his closet, she attempted to stop him from taking the gun with him, she testified. The firearm discharged once, she said. The bullet went through her arm and struck her in the side of her head, she testified.

“I don’t know if I did something to cause that, when I went to reach for it,” she told Judge Ansardi.

Questioned by attorneys and the judge, the woman described it as “an accident.” She said she is “absolutely not” afraid of her husband and wanted to reconcile.

At her request, Judge Ansardi dissolved a protective order that kept the couple apart. The judge also released Kramer from home incarceration, which was a condition of his $100,000 bond.

Assistant District Attorney Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

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Jacoby Maize sentenced to life plus 55 years for murder, arson and other crimes

Convicted killer Jacoby Maize was sentenced on Monday (March 28) to life in prison plus 55 years, for shooting Justin Hendricks Jr. in his Old Jefferson home on the day after Easter Sunday 2011 and for six other crimes.

Maize, 38, of Kenner, was convicted of second-degree murder in the April 25, 2011 homicide inside Hendricks’ home in the 100 block of Maine Street. Firefighters found the body the following day when extinguishing the fire Maize set to conceal evidence of his crime.

“For five years, I have waited for this day,” his father, Dr. Justin Hendricks Sr. testified. “The Lord has answered my prayers. For five years I’ve waited to lay eyes on my son’s murderer: You. I have finally gotten justice.”

Hendricks anonymously called 911 after witnessing Maize pistol whipping his wife in his home. Maize returned to the house later and shot Hendricks once in the hip, leaving him to bleed to death.

Dr. Hendricks said his son “did the unthinkable” by calling 911, in that others did not stand up to Maize. “Did he think his life was in peril? Yes,” Dr. Hendricks testified. “But he did it anyway.”

During his trial, Maize accused his wife of being the killer and the arsonist. He asserted that Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives, his wife and other witnesses falsely accused him of committing the seven crimes for which he stood trial.

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Dr. Hendricks, who attended the trial, noted Maize’s defense assertions in calling him “a liar” and “a coward.” Maize chuckled and continued smiling as the grieving father wept in the witness seat.

A Jefferson Parish jury on March 4 convicted Maize as charged of the murder, aggravated arson, two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, aggravated second-degree battery, witness intimidation and aggravated assault.

The aggravated second-degree battery, aggravated assault and witness intimidation involve Maize’s wife, whom he shot at, beat and threatened if she told anyone that he killed Hendricks, according to trial testimony.

After rejecting Maize’s attorneys’ request for a new trial on Monday, Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court handed down the mandatory life sentence for Hendricks’ death.

Judge Sullivan sentenced Maize to 15 years for the aggravated second-degree battery, 20 years for each of the firearm charges, 40 years for witness intimidation, 20 years for aggravated arson and 10 years for aggravated assault.

The judge ran some of the sentences consecutively to one-another, with the end result being 55 years on top of life in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.

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Matthew Flugence pleads guilty to first-degree murder of Ahlittia North

Matthew Flugence, the Marrero man accused of killing 6-year-old Ahlittia North before discarding her body in a residential trash can that he rolled to a Harvey curb two years ago, pleaded guilty as charged to first-degree murder on Thursday (March 24), accepting a life sentence in prison in a plea deal that removed the possibility he one day could die by lethal injection.

Flugence, 22, had been charged with first-degree murder, and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office planned to seek the death penalty. His guilty plea, which removes the death penalty, was negotiated with his public defenders, leading to Thursday’s unscheduled hearing before 24th Judicial District Court Judge Adrian Adams.

“There will always be an Ahlittia-size hole in my heart, in my life,” her mother Lisa North testified during the plea hearing.

The North family agreed to the plea arrangement and was thankful for it, District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said.

“This outcome gives peace to the Ahilittia’s family, who have been spared the painful experience of reliving the horrible events during the trial,” Connick Jr. said. “Justice has been served.”

Capital cases mandate a high level of scrutiny at the appellate level, meaning the review at higher courts can last for years. This plea ends it. As part of his plea, Flugence agreed to waive his appeal rights and spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of probation, parole or suspended sentence.

Flugence admitted he abducted North from her mother’s apartment in the 2900 block of Destrehan Avenue in Harvey’s Woodmere subdivision on July 13, 2013.

Her disappearance set off a massive search by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and other agencies that ended three days later, when the child’s body was found wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket. Her remains were discarded in a residential garbage can left along Destrehan Avenue near where her mother lived, “to be picked up as though she was not a human being,” Lisa North testified.

“She died terrified and alone at the hands of an evil monster,” Lisa North testified.

North, who would have turned 9 on March 3, was stabbed twice in the neck and twice in the abdomen.

Flugence, whose uncle was North’s stepfather, emerged as the suspect and was arrested three days after she disappeared. Police found him walking alone on Victory Drive in Westwego. He was carrying a knife, police said at the time.

He confessed, asserting that the child initiated sexual contact behind an apartment building on Destrehan Avenue, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. After the encounter he alleged happened, he told police, he snapped, stabbed her and watched her die.

Lisa North said Flugence “showed no grace or mercy” throughout the ordeal, including his baseless accusations of what he alleged her daughter did. “But far worse than that, he shows no remorse,” she testified.

In connection with the plea arrangement, the District Attorney’s Office also dismissed charges of aggravated rape, unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, two counts of battery on a corrections officer and resisting arrest by force or violence. The rape charge did not involve Ahlittia.

Flugence’s brother, Russell Flugence, 24, of Marrero, pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to report a certain felony in 2014 and was sentenced to one year in prison. He admitted his brother told him he killed North, but he didn’t report it to police.

Assistant District Attorneys Sunny Funk and Doug Freese prosecuted the cases.

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‘Sovereign citizen’ defendant convicted of Metairie home burglary

A Metairie man who on the eve of his trial declared he’s a sovereign citizen and refused to answer the judge’s questions was convicted Tuesday night (March 22) of burglarizing an elderly widow’s home.

Sean Stock, 28, a tree trimmer, was convicted of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and possession of stolen things. He broke into the woman’s 47th Street home near South Causeway Boulevard on June 20. The woman asserts someone broke into her home the following day, but Stock was not charged with a second offense.

“I just couldn’t believe someone broke into my property two days in a row,” the woman testified on Tuesday.

The woman said she lost coins, a laptop computer and jewelry that included her engagement ring and the wedding band that belonged to her husband who died on Good Friday 2014.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Stock on June 23. Stock initially said an acquaintance gave him the stolen items to sell.

He eventually confessed, saying he was familiar with the woman’s home because the woman hired him to remove a tree from the property and he performed various tasks there previously. His court-appointed attorney alleged the confession was false and based on detectives’ intimidation and coercive tactics during the interview with detectives.

During the investigation, the woman said he heard detectives mention the name Sean, she testified. She inquired and when was shown his photograph, she recognized he was the man she previously hired to cut down a tree her property and performed home repairs.

That led to his being questioned. The jury was shown a video of Stock’s interrogation, during which he said he was given the stolen jewelry and an incredulous detective told him, “Come one man, this is not adding up. There’s no judge that’s going to buy this” explanation.

The jury seated on Monday deliberated about 45 minutes in finding that Stock is guilty as charged.

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court set Stock’s sentencing for April 4. Stock faces one to 12 years in prison for the burglary and up to 10 years for possessing stolen things.

On Monday, Judge Kovach sentenced Stock to six months in jail after finding him in contempt of court because he refused to answer her questions. Stock announced before jury selection began that he wanted to act as his own attorney.

The request led to a required hearing during which the judge questioned the defendant about self-representation. During it, Stock refused to answer questions, alluding to his affiliation with the sovereign citizens movement, an anti-government movement whose followers refuse to recognize laws or pay taxes.

Stock raised the affiliation during the past week. Prosecutors also sought a court order barring Stock from raising the issue in front of the jury had he testified, saying he could not have a fair trial “if his defense will be based solely on utterly irrelevant, and frivolous contentions.” Stock did not testify.

Stock has previous convictions of carjacking, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison in 2004, and possession of drug paraphernalia, for which he received a 6-month sentence in 2012.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the case.

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Kenner gymnastics coach sentenced to 25 years in prison for child pornography and video voyeurism

A gymnastics coach at Kenner and Metairie businesses who secretly made videos of a 9-year-old girl changing clothing and later was found to have child pornography in his Kenner home has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Brian Townsend, 43, of Kenner, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (March 22), to 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 11 counts of video voyeurism. In addition to prison time, whenever released from custody, Townsend will have register as a sex offender and remain under supervision for the rest of his life.

The Kenner Police Department opened an investigation in July after learning from the Louisiana State Police that Townsend was sharing and downloading child pornography on the internet using peer-to-peer file sharing software, according to the arrest report.

Kenner and State Police, working with agents of the FBI New Orleans Division’s Violent Crimes Against Children/Human Trafficking Task Force, were able to remotely view videos of prepubescent girls engaging in sexual activity that were on Townsend’s computer. Task force members traced the computer to Townsend’s home on California Avenue in Kenner.

The police searched his home on Oct. 29, when Townsend disclosed he coached children’s gymnastics for about 30 years, according to the arrest report. Among the items police found were 13 videos of a 9-year-old girl whom he secretly recorded with the video camera on his cellular device, which he hid in a room where he sent the child to change her clothing, according to the report.

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office filed a bill of information in court on Jan. 1, charging Townsend with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and 11 counts of video voyeurism. The crimes happened between 2010 and 2015, according to the bill of information.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the plea arrangement, sentenced Townsend to 25 years for each of the child pornography counts and 10 years for each of the video voyeurism counts.  He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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Metairie man sentenced to life plus 57 years in prison for raping young girl

A Metairie man convicted of sexually abusing a girl over a 4-year period beginning when she was 8 years old was sentenced on Wednesday (March 23) to life in prison plus 57 years.

Simon Shokr, 44, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury on March 4 of aggravated rape, sexual battery of a victim under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile in connection with the abuse that began in 2008.

Shokr told the girl to say nothing, and she complied until she reached high school, when she told classmates who in turn alerted a teacher and led to an investigation and his arrest by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The victim, now age 16, recounted in impact testimony on Wednesday of how she resorted to cutting herself to “focus on the pain of my wounds instead of the pain I felt inside” she felt because of the sexual abuse. She said she attempted suicide five times and was hospitalized as a result.

“Today I stand before you to say I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor,” she testified.

The victim’s mother called Shokr “a monster” and hoped he would be “haunted” by his behavior while serving his sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. “You’re an evil sexual predator who preyed on innocent girls,” she told him.  “May you never find peace in your dark soul.”

Shokr, one of 10 inmates in the packed courtroom, said nothing during the sentencing hearing. During his trial, he said he was a businessman who immigrated to the United States from Beirut, Lebanon in 1989.  He denied the rape accusations and said the girl fabricated the accusations because of upheaval in her family.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court handed down the mandatory life sentence for aggravated rape in Louisiana.  Judge Grefer then sentenced him to 50 years in prison for the sexual battery and seven years in prison for the indecent behavior. Judge Grefer ran the sentences consecutively.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

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Harvey man sentenced to 25 years for crack and gun convictions

A Harvey man who was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury last week of narcotics and gun offenses was sentenced on Tuesday (March 22) to 25 years in prison.

Corey Faciane, 40, also was ordered to pay a $21,000 fine in connection with his convictions on Thursday of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Members of the West Bank Major Crimes Task Force booked Faciane on Feb. 10, 2011, after finding in his Manhattan Boulevard “stash house” more than 350 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $20,000. The task force members also found a pistol that had been reported stolen in 2010, and because of his criminal history, he was barred from possessing firearms.

The officers separately found more than $28,200 in cash in a shoe box in his Wall Boulevard apartment. The currency included five $100 bills the officers gave to a confidential informant to purchase drugs from Faciane.

Faciane confessed that the drugs were his and that he was a dealer, but he stood trial last week asserting his innocence. The jury deliberated about one hour, 15 minutes before finding him guilty as charged.

After denying the defense its request for a new trial on Tuesday, Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Faciane to 25 years for the cocaine offense and 20 years for the gun charge. He ran them concurrently.

Faciane could get substantially longer prison sentence, depending on how Mentz rules next month during a multiple bill hearing. Prosecutors on Tuesday filed documents in court in charging Faciane as a triple offender under Louisiana’s career criminal law.

Faciane, a former Algiers resident, has convictions in New Orleans Criminal District Court of possession of cocaine and of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

If found to be a habitual offender, his sentencing range for the new cocaine conviction would be 20 years to 60 years, and the range for the firearm offense would be 13 1/3 years to 40 years.

Faciane pleaded not guilty to the multiple bill on Tuesday. He is scheduled to reappear in Judge Mentz’s court on April 18 for the hearing.

Assistant District Attorneys Angel Varnado and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.

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Recidivist Kenner drug dealer pleads guilty, sentenced to 22 years in prison

Moments after a jury was seated for his trial, a Kenner man agreed to plead guilty as charged on Monday (March 21) to eight narcotics and other offenses in exchange for a 22-year prison sentence.

Charles E. Nelson, 37, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone, possession with intent to distribute alprazolam, possession of heroin, simple criminal damage to property and resisting arrest.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents booked Nelson on Jan. 11, 2013, after receiving information from a confidential informant that he was selling illegal narcotics in the Fat City area, according to the arrest report. The agent observed Nelson making a hand-to-hand drug sale, followed him and pulled him over for a traffic stop in the 3300 block of Cleary Avenue, according to the report.

Using a drug-sniffing dog, the narcotics agents found a sock in the vehicle’s engine compartment containing crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin and hydrocodone, and $613 in small bills inside the vehicle, according to the report.

He was released from the parish jail after posting a $90,000 bond and awaiting trial on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and hydrocodone and possession of heroin when he was arrested again on Nov. 19, records show.

Narcotics agents had obtained information that Nelson again was selling crack cocaine and were seeking him when they learned he had a bench warrant for his arrest because he failed to show up in court in the pending case, prosecutors said.

The agents found him in the 4900 block of York Street in Metairie, and when they attempted to arrest him, he accelerated his vehicle and struck a Sheriff’s Office vehicle, according to the arrest report. Deputies said he resisted arrest by refusing to get out of his vehicle and then struggling with the officers as they tried to place handcuffs on him, according to the report.

They arrested him after finding crack cocaine, powder cocaine and alprazolam and hydrocodone pills. Prosecutors charged him with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, hydrocodone and alprazolam, in addition to simple criminal damage and resisting arrest.

The court spent the day Monday selecting a jury that was to hear testimony on all of the charges. Just after the panel was sworn in, Nelson agreed to a negotiated plea offer, which 24th Judicial District Court Judge Lee Faulkner accepted.

Additionally, Nelson pleaded guilty as a double offender under the state’s career criminal law, because of a 2003 guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Judge Faulkner ran all of Nelson’s sentences concurrently for a total of 22 years.

The judge also ordered Nelson to pay restitution to the Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $3,007, for the damage he caused when he struck the deputy’s vehicle.

Assistant District Attorneys Sloan Abernathy and Linsday Truhe prosecuted the case.

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Harvey man convicted in crack possession and distribution, gun possession case

A Harvey man has been convicted of being a crack cocaine dealer, in connection with narcotics with a street value of more than $20,000 that police found in his apartment.

Corey Faciane, 40, was convicted Thursday (March 17) as charged of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He faces two years to 30 years in prison for the drug offense and 10 years to 20 years for the gun charge.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Faciane on Tuesday (March 22).

Members of the West Bank Major Crimes Task Force booked Faciane on Feb. 10, 2011, after finding more than 350 grams of crack cocaine and cocaine powder and paraphernalia in his “stash house” apartment at 2201 Manhattan Blvd. The officers also found more than $28,200 in cash in Faciane’s residence.

They additionally found a pistol in the stash house that had been reported stolen in 2010. Faciane was barred from possessing firearms because of his criminal history. At the time of his arrest, he was serving probation for a conviction in New Orleans of illegal narcotics possession.

After his arrest, Faciane confessed to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen Arnold that the drugs were his and that he sold drugs.

Unrelated to Faciane’s case, Arnold was shot five times by a suspect on Jan. 26 in New Orleans, while serving a warrant obtained by a federal narcotics task force. Arnold remains hospitalized in critical condition and is unable to speak and was unable to testify in Faciane’s trial this week.

Calling Arnold “an essential witness” in the case, prosecutors successfully convinced the judge to allow them to use testimony the deputy provided in a pretrial hearing in 2011. Prosecutors read aloud to the jury the testimony Arnold gave during that proceeding, including portions in which the deputy was cross-examined by Faciane’s attorney.

The jury also heard a recording of the confession that Faciane gave to Arnold.

The task force began its investigation after receiving information from the confidential informant that Faciane was selling narcotics between two apartments, at 2201 Manhattan Blvd., and 3300 Wall Blvd. The informant then agreed to purchase ½-ounce of crack from Faciane, using $500 in cash whose denominations were recorded beforehand.

Within 72 hours of the buy, Jefferson Parish deputies and Gretna police officers executed search warrants on both apartments. While counting the $28,215 in cash found in a shoe box in the Wall Boulevard apartment, the officers discovered the five $100 bills they gave the confidential informant to purchase crack from Faciane.

The jury deliberated about one hour, 15 minutes. Faciane, who had been free from jail on a $200,000 bond since the day of his arrest, was remanded to the parish jail to await Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Assistant District Attorneys Angel Varnado and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.

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Man who raped pregnant Kenner woman sentenced to 25 years in prison

A Tangipahoa Parish man who admitted he broke into a pregnant Kenner woman’s apartment almost daily for a month before raping her in her bedroom was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday (March 18) as a career criminal.

Brandon Watkins, 26, a former Kenner resident who lived in Independence at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty as charged last year to forcible rape and residential burglary in connection with his most recent crimes in 2013.

In announcing the sentence for the rape and burglary, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court noted “that Mr. Watkins felt he could take what he wanted whenever he wanted.”  Judge Steib also disputed Watkins’s assertion that he didn’t intend to rape the woman, that it “just happened” during the break-in.

“I find his excuse unbelievable,” Judge Steib said in announcing the 25-year sentence for the forcible rape and 12 years for the burglary. Steib ran the sentences concurrently.

Watkins then pleaded guilty to being second offender because of a similar crime he committed in Kenner in 2011. Prosecutors filed the double bill on the forcible rape charge, meaning that Watkins faced 20 years to 80 years in prison as a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law.

Prosecutors told the judge that the victim wanted it known that she was pregnant when Watkins raped her, and she was placed in the position of pleading for her safety and that of her unborn child.

Watkins admitted he broke into a woman’s apartment on Clemson Place about 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2013, having done so every day for about a month by entering through a rear window, according to the Kenner Police Department. The woman told authorities she had noticed items moved in the apartment during the period but assumed her son was responsible, unaware that an intruder was entering her home.

On the final break-in, Watkins went to the woman’s bedroom in search of money. She woke up and saw him next to her bed, leading to a struggle and then the rape, according to the arrest report.  The woman told police she pleaded with Watkins, telling him she was pregnant and asking him to use a condom.  He refused to use a condom, she said. After raping the woman, he fled without stealing anything.

Authorities linked Watkins to the crime through his DNA he left at the scene during the rape, according to the arrest report. Watkins’s DNA profile already was included in a database managed by the Louisiana State Police, leading to the match.

Police arrested him on Oct. 13, 2013, after confirming Watkins was, in fact, the DNA donor. During the interview in Kenner, Watkins confessed that he entered the woman’s apartment through a back window almost every day for a month.

He pleaded guilty as charged forcible rape and burglary on Aug. 24. In seeking double-offender status on Friday, prosecutors relied on Watkins’s 2012 guilty plea to burglary of an inhabited dwelling, for which he had been sentenced to two years in prison.

In that crime, Watkins broke into a woman’s apartment on Curtis Avenue in Kenner on Dec. 11, 2011, by climbing through a window, police said. He hid in the woman’s bedroom.  She later was in bed when she heard a noise about 4:48 a.m., looked over and saw Watkins crawling on the floor, according to the arrest report.

Watkins jumped to his feet and asked her to not call police before he ran out without stealing anything. He was linked to that crime by his fingerprints, police said.  At the time, Watkins lived on Lesan Street in Kenner, two streets over from Curtis Avenue, police said.

In accepting the guilty plea last year for the rape and burglary, Judge Steib ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The state probation and parole office investigates and makes sentencing recommendations to guide judges in their decisions, but those recommendations are not disclosed publicly.

In addition to the 25-year sentence he received Friday, Watkins will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life when he is released from prison, court records show.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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