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UPDATED: 1/23/18 9:47 am ET adds plea agreement

DETROIT Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty Monday to two charges related to a conspiracy to siphon millions from an employee training fund, overturning the not guilty plea entered on his behalf in August. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit.

Sentencing was set for May 29. Iacobelli faces a statutory maximum of eight years in prison, and prosecutors said he will be required to repay $835,000.

Iacobelli is at the center of an ever expanding federal probe into executives at the automaker and the UAW for allegedly pulling funds slated for employees to line their own pockets.

The probe since has spread to the UAW training centers for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. automakers. GM is conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

Federal investigators also met with FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne more than a year ago, according to reports. automakers. A lawyer for Iacobelli declined to comment on Monday, Reuters reported.

If Iacobelli chooses to cooperate with prosecutors, it’s unclear how effective his testimony would be, according to Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor.

“It will depend on whether he has agreed to cooperate, and also what information he could provide. With a defendant at his level, what interactions did he have with senior executives is an open question,” he told Automotive News. “He has admitted he’s engaged in fraud. That means his testimony wouldn’t be all that trustworthy.

Notable among Iacobelli’s alleged purchases with money taken from the UAW Chrysler National Training Center are a 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider and two solid gold Mont Blanc pens, each valued at $37,500. Reports say Iacobelli sold the sports car when news of the probe emerged. He also admitted to $262,219 in training center funds used to pay off Holiefield mortgage.

Both pens are in the possession of the government at this time.

On the tax charge, Iacobelli said he omitted more than $840,000 in income for the calendar year 2014, obtained illegally through FCA funds.

Morgan is scheduled for a another plea hearing Feb. 6, while Durden is to be sentenced in May and King is to be sentenced in June. Durden and King pleaded guilty.

According to the plea deal, Iacobelli’s sentencing will not exceed 96 months. Henning said he would be “shocked” if time in federal prison was not recommended. “Sometimes you see crimes of opportunity, where it’s a one time transaction. This was systematic corruption inside the corporation. That’s what’s likely to lead to a prison sentence.”

The UAW said in a statement Monday that it is “appalled at these charges. We have worked with the (national training center) and Fiat Chrysler to implement a range of measures aimed at enhancing transparency and internal controls at the NTC to reduce the risk of any future recurrence of these activities.”

Marchionne has said the conduct nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bargaining process and the acts were neither known to nor sanctioned by (Fiat Chrysler).” The company had no further comment Monday.

Reuters and Michael Wayland contributed to this report.

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mont blanc pen repairs UAW criminal case as probe spreads

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On Dec. 6, 1917, some 2,000 people were killed when an explosives laden French cargo ship, the Mont Blanc, collided with the Norwegian vessel Imo at the harbour in Halifax, Nova Scotia, setting off a blast that devastated the Canadian city. Finland declared its independence from Russia.

In 1790, Congress moved to Philadelphia from New York.

In 1957, America first attempt at putting a satellite into orbit failed as Vanguard TV3 rose about four feet off a Cape Canaveral launch pad before crashing down and exploding.

In 1967, three days after the first human heart transplant took place in South Africa, a surgical team at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, led by Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz transplanted the heart of a brain dead two day old baby boy into an 19 day old infant who died six hours later.

In 1973, House minority leader Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as vice president, succeeding Spiro T. Agnew.

In 1982, 11 soldiers and six civilians were killed when an Irish National Liberation Army bomb exploded at a pub in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland.

In 1989, 14 women were shot to death at the University of Montreal school of engineering by a man who then took his own life. questioners; the disclosure brought immediate condemnation from Capitol Hill. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, speaking at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas, said his Mormon faith should neither help nor hinder his quest for the White House as he vowed to serve the interests of the nation, not the church, if elected president.

Five years ago: Shocking some of his closest Republican colleagues, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina announced he would resign his seat to head Washington conservative Heritage Foundation think tank . Marijuana possession became legal in Washingon state, the day a measure approved by voters to regulate marijuana like alcohol took effect.

One year ago: President elect Donald Trump officially announced he would nominate retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be his defence secretary, bringing his pick onstage at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Mattis briefly addressed the crowd as he thanked Trump for choosing him.

Today Birthdays: Comedy performer David Ossman is 81. Actor Patrick Bauchau is 79. Country singer Helen Cornelius is 76. Actor James Naughton is 72. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is 72. Rhythm and blues singer Frankie Beverly (Maze) is 71. Former Sen. Don Nickles, R Okla., is 69. Actress JoBeth Williams is 69. Actor Tom Hulce is 64. Actor Wil Shriner is 64. Actor Kin Shriner is 64. Actor Miles Chapin is 63. Rock musician Rick Buckler (The Jam) is 62. Comedian Steven Wright is 62. Country singer Bill Lloyd is 62. Singer Tish Hinojosa is 62. Rock musician David Lovering (Pixies) is 56. Actress Janine Turner is 55. Rock musician Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl) is 55. Rock musician Ulf Ekberg (Ace of Base) is 47. Actress Colleen Haskell is 41. Actress Lindsay Price is 41. Actress Ashley Madekwe is 36. Actress Nora Kirkpatrick is 33. Christian rock musician Jacob Chesnut (Rush of Fools) is 28. Tennis player CoCo Vandeweghe is 26. NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel is 25.
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A tandem bike, 100 red roses and a tower of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

They are just some of the weird and wonderful items left behind by guests at Carlisle’s Travelodge hotels.

The budget hotel brand has today revealed some of the strangest items that guests have forgotten or purposefully left at their 542 hotels across the UK in the last year.

Also in lost and found offices of city hotels was a company credit card, a diary spanning more than 40 years and a compass.

Travelodge has hotels at Todhills, Southwaite and in the city centre.

Interestingly the hotel chain has seen a growing trend in “forgetful brides” nationally.

The hotel manager at Manchester Trafford Park Travelodge got quite a shock when they found a 27ft ‘Starchaser’ space rocket at their hotel.

A pilot, from a well known airline, was in quite a rush to get to the airport that he left his pilot’s licence at Gatwick Airport Travelodge. Luckily the hotel manager flew to his rescue and personally took the licence to the airport.

The hotel chain has also seen a number of precious items being left behind by business customers, such as one executive who left behind his 50 year old teddy bear called Rupert at Aberdeen Travelodge. The distressed gentleman sent his PA to personally collect the vintage bear from London as he could not sleep without him.

One superstitious business man had to take a day’s holiday to come back from the Netherlands to collect his rare Montblanc, Meisterstck Solitaire Skeleton fountain pen worth 8,000 as he said he could not sign any paper work without his lucky pen.

An American stockbroker left London Liverpool Street Travelodge without his briefcase which contained over 500,000 worth of share certificates for a client.

One female businesswoman sent a car to pick up her 24ct gold, lucky laughing Buddha necklace which she forgot at Bicester Travelodge after an extensive shopping spree.

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman,
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said: “With nearly 19m customers annually staying at our 542 UK Travelodge hotels, for a wide variety of reasons, we do get some interesting items being left behind.

“This year’s inventory list includes a Starchaser space rocket, a WW2 bravery medal, deeds to land in the Scottish Highlands, a pilot’s licence, a mother in law and a Lionhead rabbit called Bugs Bunny.

“Also as more business customers are staying with us than ever before, we have had some precious items being left behind such as a 50 year old teddy bear called Rupert belonging to a high flying executive, a movie script, a rare Mont Blanc pen, share certificates worth 500k and a 24 ct lucky laughing Buddha necklace.

“The running theme our customers do tell us, is that the pace of modern life is so fast and furious that time is off the essence especially when getting from A to B and therefore valuable possessions are easily being forgotten.”

The most common left items were chargers for electronic devices,
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teddy bears and toiletry bags.

All items left behind in Travelodge hotels which have not been claimed within three months are donated to local British Heart Foundation charity shops.

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“It took us a bit of time to find our place in each other’s life but we were on our way to such an amazing life together. We felt like we found each other’s match, brain, body and soul.

“The same appetite for life, the same curiosity and ambition to always better ourselves, to constantly learn, grow and explore together.

“We loved each other very deeply and had become really good at saying and showing it to each other.

“He made such a huge impact on me. Taking me from emotional darkness to light, inspiring me to be the best possible version of myself. Making me so balanced, and intensely happy at the same time.

“I can barely start grasping the void he is leaving in my life. I know I’m not the only one who will miss him.”

Mr Reader’s brother Dickon, a professional event rider, said: “I haven’t just lost a brother. I have lost a role model who I looked up to to lead the way.

“He was always so ambitious, wanted to better himself and find ways of improving and pushing the boundaries.

“He wanted to and did enhance the lives of everyone around him. He always believed in me, supported me and will leave a huge gap in my life. Rest in peace, you will never be forgotten.”

Mr Reader worked as a wind tunnel instructor for Norway based VossVind.

A spokesman said: “We are all extremely sad and devastated over the loss of our dear David. It is unreal, this was not supposed to happen.
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Once again, an AR 15 has been used in a mass shooting. In this week’s rampage in San Bernardino, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used AR 15 style rifles in killing 14 people and injuring 21 others.

Murderers use all manner of weapons, and Farook and Malik were also found with two semiautomatic handguns.

But no gun has been as controversial in recent years as the AR 15 a weapon first introduced in the 1960s and similar weapons.

AR 15 style guns were used three years ago in the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. The twin rampages sparked a boom in the sale of military style weapons.

“There was a 30% to 50% increase during the surge,” said gun industry analyst Brian Ruttenbur of BB Capital Markets.

The AR 15, like other tactical guns, can use high capacity magazines containing more than 10 bullets. It’s known for its ability to be customized: Sights, grips, stocks and handguards can be attached and detached like Legos.

After Aurora and Newtown, buyers were driven by fears that Congress would enact federal restrictions, galvanizing the nation’s gun control movement. President Obama had called for greater restrictions on the kinds of weapons used in both killings.

These AR 15 style rifles and semiautomatic handguns were used in the San Bernardino mass shooting. Then, Obama’s gun control bill failed to pass the Senate in April 2013 and concerns that Washington would clamp down subsided.

And so did sales of military style weapons.

Today, the overall gun business is booming. The stock of Smith Wesson (SWHC), a leading gun maker,
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has nearly doubled in 2015. FBI background checks, a close proxy to gun sales, are on course for a record year.

Experts say, however, that demand is driven by increased customer appetite for handguns, while sales of rifles have slowed.

Walmart (WMT), one of the nation’s largest sellers of guns, announced a few months ago that it would stop selling military style weapons. The company cited falling sales but also indicated that it wanted to focus its guns sales on sports and hunting.

“Our focus in terms of firearms should be hunters and people who shoot sporting clays, and things like that,” CEO Douglas McMillon told CNNMoney. “So the types of rifles we sell, the types of ammunition we sell, should be curated for those things.”

Related: What really goes on at a gun show

The AR 15 was invented by a company called ArmaLite. troops in Vietnam as America’s answer to the AK 47 used by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army.

Both the AR 15 and AK 47 are still produced by Colt and Kalashnikov, the companies that own the original brands. for the first time this year.

Despite Walmart’s decision to stop selling the AR 15, the gun and similar semiautomatic military style rifles remain readily available.

Three of the biggest chains that sell guns, Cabela’s (CAB), Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shop, advertise a selection of AR 15s on their Websites.

And the weapons can be bought at small stores and gun shows. Ruttenbur estimates that about 80% of AR 15s and other military style rifles are sold by independent “mom and pop” gun shops.

But people are buying fewer of them, experts say.

Ruttenbur said sales at big gun retailers are driven by hunting rifles and shotguns. The military style rifles make up just a small portion of their sales.

“AR 15s are not selling well,
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” he said. “There’s not an upswing. Long guns have been down for the last six months.”

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The 32 man squad features 11 players who were capped across last season’s Under 20 Six Nations tournament and World Rugby Under 20 Championship.

In the forwards, prop Jordan Duggan, hookers Ronan Kelleher and Diarmuid Barron, along with back rower Sean Masterson, all featured last season, as did seven of the backs selected scrum half Jonny Stewart, out half Conor Dean, centres Angus Curtis, David McCarthy and Tommy O’Brien along with back three players Mark Keane and Michael Silvester. UCD and Leinster ‘A’ regular Tommy O’Brien will captain the side.

Commenting on the squad selection, new Ireland Under 20 head coach Noel McNamara said: “It’s an exciting time for the players and the coaching team. There have been some tight calls across the board and it’s great to see that competition for places.

“Also, with 11 players who were involved last season, there is some good experience across the squad. The players have all been working hard over the past number of months and we’re confident in the ability of the squad that we have selected.”

Looking forward to the Six Nations campaign which begins for Ireland away to France in Brive on Friday,
buy fountain pen Tommy O'Brien To Captain Ireland Under
February 2, Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC, said: “As longstanding sponsors of Irish Rugby, we have built an established and mutually beneficial relationship with the IRFU.

“With that in mind, we are excited to kick off this year’s Under 20 Six Nations Championship as we head into our thirteenth year as sponsors of the Ireland Under 20 squad. We are enormously proud to be associated with such a talented and hardworking team and we look forward to supporting them and their coaching staff through the 2018 campaign.

“At PwC we take pride in our relentless focus on developing talent and being the ‘best that we can be’ to ensure the greatest results for our people, our clients and our business partners. We know that Irish Rugby shares the same approach.

“The acceleration of talent from this grade to the full senior squad has become more pronounced in recent seasons and we look forward to many of the 2018 team making the same jump in the future. We wish the team the very best of luck. FutureisGreen.”

After the opening clash with France at Stade Am Domenech, the Ireland U 20s will play three successive home games against Italy, Wales and Scotland on Friday nights at Donnybrook, with the series of home fixtures again being sponsored by Electric Ireland.

Their Championship run will conclude with a trip to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry to face England on Friday, March 16,
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in a double header with the Ireland and England Women’s teams.

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A US discount warehouse chain known for piling ’em high, and selling ’em cheap, is offering cut price coffins along with buckets of ketchup and two gallon tubs of ice cream under a new pilot program.

Costco Wholesale Corp began selling the $US800 ($A11200) caskets in two of its Chicago stores this week and has already taken some orders, spokesman Bob Nelson said.

The Universal Casket Company caskets come in six models in a variety of colours and 18 gauge steel. Consumers place an order electronically and their coffin is home delivered within 48 hours. The chain is closely monitoring sales and could offer caskets in all of its warehouse stores.

Costco, which estimates funeral homes charge closer to $US3500 for a casket, said that it hoped to appeal to consumers unhappy about the high prices charged by many funeral homes.

The chain buys goods in bulk and sells them to its 40 million members who pay a yearly fee for the privilege of shopping at its warehouses. It has 438 warehouses and reported sales of $US48 billion this financial year.
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I always been a fan of Donald Trump.

I met the man in 1990, when I was a New York City street vendor. Four or five days a week, I sell the “Incredible Wiggling Hand” on the sidewalk in front of Trump Tower. The toy squirmed around as if it were Thing from “The Addams Family.”

“Hello, Mr. Trump,” I said after bagging the toy for a customer. I had read “The Art of the Deal” a few months earlier and was inspired by its message that my success wouldn depend on my education or credentials (I had neither), but rather on my ideas and my confidence. Trump nodded at me and walked away.

That nod was all I needed. I been a street vendor since 17. At that moment, I decided to follow Trump advice and “think big.” I always loved prank toys. Why should I merely sell them when I could design them instead?

Over the next 25 years I created many novelty products, marketing them first in flea markets, then to small gift stores and finally at major chains like Spencer Gifts and Walgreens. I done well and supported my family.

One of my biggest sellers has been the talking pen, which I particularly proud of since I invented it with a former NASA engineer. It endlessly adaptable with new sound chips, sculpted head toppers and barrel art, a pen can be Barack Obama or Rudy Guiliani. Each new design costs about $10,000 to develop. I order them in batches of 5,000 from a factory in China for $15,000 to $20,000.

In September 2015 I released the Hillary Clinton Laughing Pen, which featured Clinton laughing for seven crazy seconds. Fans asked for a Trump option, too, so I designed something that resembled a Mont Blanc with the Trump name stenciled in gold lettering. The pen packaging had photos of Trump with inspirational quotes, including “You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” A “Vote for Trump!” insignia appeared on the pen clip.

When I mailed a prototype to Trump campaign headquarters, I received an encouraging thank you. My pen, I was told in a letter, would be displayed in the office. I took that as an endorsement. Weeks later, 3,
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000 pens had been produced and flown to Florida, where my company is based.

That when things got hairy. Customs and Border Protection immediately confiscated the pens for trademark violation. I was told that unless I obtained Trump written permission, the pens would be destroyed. For years, I sold political gifts without incident. But Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had not trademarked their names. Trump had.

I contacted a lawyer who helped me reach Trump general licensing attorney. He forwarded my pen sample to the Trump Organization general counsel. I was asked for a royalty proposal. I sent one offering 10 percent of gross sales, with a $5,000 advance and a $10,000 guarantee. I included a heartfelt letter about my small business.

I was told that the fate of my pens would rest with Trump himself, who insists on final approval of all products bearing his name. This seemed like good news I was certain Trump would appreciate my plight. After all, he was my role model.

But after weeks of back and forth, Trump lawyers sent me a letter denying my request. I emailed the Trump campaign and the Donald himself, but received no reply. I even reached out to my senator, Marco Rubio, R Florida, explaining the situation. To my surprise, he agreed to advocate for me and his staff contacted border control on my behalf. No dice.

Eventually, the pens were destroyed. I was out $30,000 during the holiday season, when I make most of my sales. I had to pay my employees less that Christmas and buy fewer gifts for my daughters.

My family told me to take the loss and move on. But I was dejected. I had wanted Trump approval for most of my life, even fantasizing about what it would be like to star with him on “The Apprentice.” After all, I designed this pen to help Trump and he fired me!

I asked myself, “What would Trump do in my shoes?” The answer was clear: He wouldn give up. So I tried again. I worked with a sculptor and painter to re create Trump head. I listened to hours of speeches to pick the perfect catchphrases.

I made one other crucial decision, too I omitted the “Trump” name from the packaging. The pens cleared customs without issue. Within weeks, we were sold out, with thousands of back orders.

I been advised by lawyers and friends that I should not write this article and instead fly under the radar. But I am proud of this pen and don want to hide or run away. And honestly,
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I think Trump would be proud of my persistence.

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