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$6.5K reward as Arizona officials investigate the killing of a desert bighorn sheep near Gila Bend

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$6.5K reward as Arizona officials investigate the killing of a desert bighorn sheep near Gila Bend


GILA BEND, Ariz. (AP) — State wildlife officials are investigating the illegal killing of a desert bighorn ship in southwest Arizona and teaming up with local hunting and conservation groups to post a $6,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone responsible.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said Friday the carcass of the adult ram was found not far from a farm field near Gila Bend, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. It apparently had been shot and left for dead around the weekend of Jan. 13, investigators said.

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The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona Deer Association and Arizona Antelope Foundation are contributing a combined $6,000 to the reward and the state department’s Operation Game Thief another $500, authorities said.

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“There is no justifiable reason to poach an animal during a closed season and leave it to waste. Poachers are not hunters or sportsmen; they are criminals who are stealing from the residents of Arizona,” said Travis Clarkson, a wildlife manager in the department’s Yuma region.

“Due to the location of the crime scene, a hunter, an off-highway vehicle user, or a field worker near the area may have seen something or heard something that may assist officers in solving this case,” he said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at 1-800-352-0700.

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Man arrested for making ‘violent threat’ to Arizona election official in 2022

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Man arrested for making ‘violent threat’ to Arizona election official in 2022


A man was arrested in San Diego Thursday for allegedly leaving a voicemail on the personal cell phone of an Arizona election official in 2022.

William Hyde left a violent threat on the voicemail of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office employee’s phone “on or about November 29, 2022,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Hyde, 52, is set to make his initial appearance Friday at a federal courthouse in San Diego.

According to the newly unsealed indictment, Hyde allegedly left two voicemails a day after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and the employee, met that November to certify the 2022 election results in the largest county in Arizona.

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In the voicemail, Hyde allegedly said “You wanna cheat our elections? You wanna screw Americans out of true votes? We’re coming, [expletive]. You’d better [expletive] hide.”

“Intimidation of election officials strikes at the very heart of our democracy,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Tara McGrath said in a statement. “Even just one case can have a ripple effect. This Office will aggressively prosecute any attempt to intimidate, threaten, or frighten election officials as they engage in these critical duties.”

Arizona – one of a few states that helped decide the 2020 presidential election – has been at the center of political controversy after election results have been contested in recent cycles and election workers have faced threats and intimidation.

State officials certified Arizona’s 2022 election results in early December 2022. The once low-profile act has now become a high-stakes and high-pressure certification process, as Maricopa County is a hot spot for allegations of voter disenfranchisement.

Hyde, a resident of California, has been charged with one count of communicating an interstate threat. If he is convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the DOJ said.

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The FBI San Diego Field Office investigated the case with help from the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office. The case is part of the DOJ’s Election Threats Task Force, launched in 2021, to address a rising number of threats of violence against election workers.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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Arizona lawmakers give nod of approval to harsher penalties for AI crimes

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Arizona lawmakers give nod of approval to harsher penalties for AI crimes


SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Scottsdale mother’s fight to stop scammers from using artificial intelligence is gaining traction among Arizona lawmakers. Legislation, Senate Bill 1599, could make punishments more severe for people who use AI to commit crimes, and at a recent committee hearing, it received unanimous support.

Last year, Jennifer DeStefano received a phone call from a scammer who used AI to clone her 15-year-old daughter’s voice and fake a kidnapping. “She goes, ‘Mom. These bad men have me. Help me. Help me. Help me,’ and starts pleading and crying and sobbing in a voice very familiar that I’ve known for 15 years,’” DeStefano said.

The ransom demand started at a million dollars. That wasn’t possible, so the scammers dropped the price to $50,000. “Not only did they want it in cash, but they also wanted to come pick me up in a white van, put a bag over my head and transport me to my daughter with all the money. And if not, we both were dead,” DeStefano told Arizona state lawmakers. “As I’m making these arrangements, my 13-year-old daughter is listening, thinking she’s lost her sister and now she’s going to lose her mother.”

There was no kidnapping, but for a few minutes, it all felt so real. “I had had an interactive conversation. It was her cries, her sobs, unique to her. A mother knows her child,” DeStefano said.

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On Your Side’s first report on this AI scam captured the attention of Sen. Jon Ossoff from Georgia, who invited DeStefano to testify on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers vowed action. DeStefano is grateful state lawmakers are calling for change as AI technology rapidly improves. “Unfortunately, the police were not able to do anything because there’s no laws in place to allow them to do anything,” DeStefano testified. “Unfortunately, it was considered a prank call.”

State Sen. Justine Wadsack, a Republican, introduced SB 1599, which would amend state law to make using AI in a crime an ‘aggravating circumstance’ in sentencing. Basically, it would make AI a weapon, so just as criminals could face harsher punishments for using a gun while committing a crime, criminals could also face harsher punishments for using artificial intelligence while committing a crime.

DeStefano’s daughter, Brianna, was by her side to tell Arizona lawmakers about her experience. “This scam has deeply affected my life,” she said. “As a young girl still in high school, it’s difficult being able to walk out even just walking my dogs at night. Hanging out with my friends, going to the bathroom alone, you never know where anyone could be at any point in time.”

Brianna says she is not outspoken on social media and doesn’t know where scammers got her voice to clone. But as On Your Side has reported, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds of a voice sample to get a realistic fake. “I want girls to be aware of this instance and know how to protect themselves against this problem as well as the government being able to protect them,” the younger DeStefano said.

There is opposition to the bill. The ACLU of Arizona and Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice are on the record against it. The ACLU believes it’s too broad and doesn’t describe what constitutes artificial intelligence or acknowledge that the use of AI could be incidental to a crime.

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Though the bill received a unanimous vote of support in the Senate Transportation, Technology and Missing Children committee, it has not been scheduled for a vote on the floor. DeStefano is optimistic. “Arizona is being a pioneer and it’s amazing and I’m so thankful,” she said. “This is our government at play, being representatives of the people, speaking for the people and bringing forth our concerns and our needs to protect us.”

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Spring Training Is Huge Business In Arizona And Florida

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Spring Training Is Huge Business In Arizona And Florida


Spring Training is a huge source of income in both Arizona and Florida.

15 Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in each state.

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Records by state agencies and those that track spring training data indicate that more than 2.9 million people went to spring training games last February and March.

According to the Florida Sports Foundation, nearly 1.4 million fans went to Florida spring training games in 2023.

The Foundation indicates that since 2000, 34 million fans have attended spring training games in Florida. The annual economic impact results in an average of $687.1 million per year to Florida.

The Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University indicates, “Spring training in the Phoenix Valley area generated more than $710 million for the local economy during the 2023 season.”

The Institute indicated more than 1.5 million fans attended spring training games in the Phoenix Valley.

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Last year was a tremendous year at the gate for spring training teams.

The COVID-19 Pandemic canceled games in 2020. The economic impact was staggering.

But things are back to normal, and another huge year of spring training attendance is predicted.

Spring Training Tickets:

In both Florida and Arizona, in addition to local residents, fans come from all over the world to attend spring training games.

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Spring training offers a boom in business for hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, car rentals, retail shops, house rentals, and a vast array of businesses in both states.

Not to mention the tremendous amount of revenue generated by game ticket sales, as well as general team related apparel and merchandise sold by each of the 30 MLB clubs.

Spring training ticket prices vary. Some parks change their pricing depending upon the opponent.

Some parks retain the same price all spring.

Regardless of the team and venue, the day of the $15 spring training ticket are gone. Long gone.

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A sampling of spring training ticket prices for non lawn seating as listed on MLB.com revealed the following:

ARIZONA:

Arizona Diamondbacks-$41 vs. Chicago White Sox February 25

Arizona Diamondbacks-$58 vs. Chicago Cubs March 8

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(lawn seating is available for between $29)

Los Angeles Dodgers-between $37-$80 vs. Athletics on February 25

Los Angeles Dodgers-between $84-$118 vs. Cubs on March 2

Chicago White Sox-between $20-$60 vs Rangers on February 26

Chicago White Sox-between $26-$80 vs.Dodgers on March 6

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FLORIDA:

Houston Astros-between $20-$65 for all spring training games

Washington Nationals-between $20-$65 for all spring training games

Atlanta Braves-between $45-$65 for all spring training games

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($30 berm seating is available)

New York Mets-between $25-$40-50 depending on the spring training game

Conclusions

The weather in both Arizona and Florida tends to be balmy and warm in late February and March, as crowds gather to watch their favorite teams play spring training games.

Both states welcome the tremendous revenue boost provided by fans attending games played by 15 teams in each state.

Arizona and Florida are first-hand beneficiaries of the business of baseball.

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