About Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is a CHS reporter. Reach him at chasecohen@gmail.com and @bchasesc

Judge orders transfer of hacker from Guam to Seattle in Broadway Grill data breach case

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.54.56 PMA federal judge ordered a suspected Russian hacker be transferred from Guam to Seattle on Friday, where he was indicted in 2011 for allegedly hacking into point of sales systems at Washington restaurants, including a data breach in 2010 that involved stealing credit card information from hundreds of customers of Capitol Hill’s Broadway Grill.

Court documents do not indicate when Roman Seleznev, 30, will arrive stateside or when he will next appear in court. The details of Seleznev’s transfer will remain confidential until he arrives in Seattle and an arraignment is scheduled, said a Department of Justice official.

Seleznev was indicted in 2011 but wasn’t taken into custody until July 5th. DOJ representatives won’t say how the suspect was ultimately captured or how he ultimately arrived in Guam. The arrest of Seleznev, the son of a member of Russia’s Duma, set off international protest as his home nation called his seizure a kidnapping part of a string of disputes with the US over cybercrime.

According to the 2011 indictment, Seleznev’s hack of the Broadway Grill point of sale system resulted in at least $1.7 million in losses to banks and credit card companies. Seleznev’s charges include five counts of bank fraud, eight counts of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, eight counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, one count of possession of unauthorized access devices, and two counts of trafficking those devices. He also faces five counts of aggravated identity theft.

On Friday, the Guam-based federal judge also denied a motion from the defense to have Seleznev released from custody.

Ahead of sentencing hearing, Neighbours arsonist blames excessive drinking — UPDATE: 10 years

UPDATE: In Seattle’s downtown federal courthouse Thursday morning, Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sentenced Musab Masmari to ten years in prison for the New Year’s arson at Capitol Hill’s Neighbours nightclub.

Martinez doubled the sentence agreed to by both sides in the case, saying it was an exceptional case of arson that was clearly premeditated and not done in an alcoholic blackout, as Masmari had said in a written statement.”The community does need to be protected from the defendant in the future,” Martinez said. “It is not believable that he would’ve been in an alcoholic blackout.”

Masmari remained emotionless as his sentence was read and did not address the court.

“This could have been much worse,” said U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg. “The people who were at the club deserve a lot of credit.”

Greenberg said Masmari had an anti-gay bias and there was reason to believe that setting the fire at Neighbours was a hate crime. However, Greenberg asked the judge not to raise the sentence based on hate crime motivations because it would not increase the sentencing guidelines and would open the possibility of appeals.

Outside the courtroom after the hearing, defense attorney Charles Swift said he may appeal the sentence. “Because of the political nature of this case, one always suspected this could happen,” he said.

Shaun Knittel, a spokesperson for Neighbours who was inside the club at the time of the fire, said he wanted to see a much higher sentence than the five years recommended in the plea agreement. “I’m actually disgusted,” he said prior to the judge’s sentencing.

Masmari at a court hearing earlier this year (Image: CHS)

Masmari, right in purple, at a court hearing earlier this year (Image: CHS)

Original Report — 7/30/14: The former Capitol Hill resident who pleaded guilty to setting a New Year’s Eve fire inside a crowded Neighbours nightclub is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday for sentencing.

Under the plea agreement Musab Masmari will serve the mandatory minimum of five years in prison, although the judge in the case could sentence the 31-year-old up to the maximum 20 years allowed by law. Continue reading

Capitol Hill developer sues homeowner for stalling 15th and Mercer project

The future Stream 15th

The future Stream 15th

A Capitol Hill developer has sued a homeowner for breaking a property lease agreement and stalling construction of a new 15th and Mercer mixed-use project, according to court documents obtained by CHS.

Stream Real Estate, developers of the Stream 15 project at the former Chutney’s Grille on the Hill site, filed a lawsuit in June against Chris Rugh, claiming the landowner prevented construction crews from rightfully accessing his property adjacent to the project site and bringing to a halt the construction of the four-story, mixed-use apartment building with 33 units, 3,400 square feet of retail or restaurant space and underground parking spaces.

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Though it’s a battle over a laurel hedge and a temporary utility pole, the situation is causing a rare pause in the somewhat relentless pace of development around Capitol Hill.

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One year after troubled man killed in E Denny Way standoff, state laws are easing on involuntary treatments

Reuter

Reuter

Last July, Joel Reuter was shot and killed by two Seattle SWAT snipers. Reuter, suffering from a manic episode, fired a gun from inside his Bellevue and E Denny Way apartment after an 8-hour standoff.

Six months later, a 7-member jury found both officers had reason to believe Reuter, 28, posed an imminent threat to himself and others. Family and friends of Reuter that spoke with CHS agreed that police did everything within reason to deescalate the situation. What Reuter’s family decried was their inability to have their son involuntarily committed for treatment because of strict protections in Washington state law.

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How will new apartment dwellers mix with Pike/Pine nightlife?

The Capitol Hill Block Party's Vera stage had a new background in 2014

The Capitol Hill Block Party’s Vera stage had a new background in 2014. By 2015, there will be hundreds of residents in the new building at 11th and Union. “There is poignant juxtaposition… residential development and music festival. Next year there will be people living in those apartments,” CHBP producer Jason Lajeunesse told CHS. (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

If residents in new Pike/Pine buildings weren’t aware of both the fun and the noise of the nightlife-focused neighborhood they moved into, they certainly got a full dose of it during the weekend’s 18th annual Capitol Hill Block Party. With hundreds more apartment units slated to come online in the dense nightlife corridor, existing bar and club owners are hoping their new neighbors will be down with the sound. Even with soaring rents, turns out building developers aren’t doing much more than hoping the same thing, too.

Architects and other experts tell CHS that few, if any, new developments within Pike/Pine are especially equipped to dampen street noise from rattling inside units. With few affordable solutions and no regulatory mandates, there seems to be little incentive to equip units with high performance windows or soundproof insulation or to design the buildings to better serve the existing neighborhood. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party 2014: Day One Open Thread

The Vera Stage is bigger and better this year -- and has a telling new view in the background (Image: CHS intern Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

The Vera Stage is bigger and better this year — and has a telling new view in the background (Image: CHS intern Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

Spoon loomed large Friday night (Image: CHBP with permission to CHS)

Spoon loomed large Friday night (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Jason Lajeunesse and the Block Party crew initiated the tightly coordinated sequence of events needed to prepare Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 for liftoff. Before the first glimmer of sunlight touches Pike/Pine on Friday, streets needed to be closed, stages erected, and wires ran every which way.

With less sweat, but just as much determination, we present our annual pre-party ritual: the launch of CHS’s Block Party open threads. CHS will update through the weekend on the people making Block Party happen, the crowds, and the community around the festival.

You can also follow @jseattle for updates. Let us know if you see anything — or anybody — interesting, too. You can email us or call/txt (206) 399-5959 for the *really* interesting stuff to let us know what you’re seeing. Or hearing.

  • Luckily, rainfall earlier in the week seems to have purged crummy weather conditions heading into Block Party. The forecast for the rest of the weekend looks ideal, with temperatures in the mid-70s through the weekend afternoons and sunscreen-worthy clear skies.
  • Three-day, two-day, and single day passes are still on sale here. You can also purchase tickets at the gate or at the E Pike Caffe Vita. There are also various local businesses giving away tickets as prizes or offering them as a gift with purchase. Check out the CHBP Facebook page to find the latest promotions.
  • With an event as large as Block Party in an area as dense as Pike/Pine, unofficial spinoffs are part of the fun. This year some people are setting up a hip-hop BBQ, promising “meat, heat, and blunts.” Let us know if you see any other interesting things along Block Party’s peripheral blocks.
  • Call him Billy Gates but don't trust A$AP Rocky was actually hanging at Linda's (Image via Linda's Facebook)

    Call him Billy Gates but don’t trust that A$AP Rocky was actually hanging at Linda’s earlier this week (Image via Linda’s Facebook)

    Music kicks off Friday afternoon with Shy Girls on the Main Stage and Lemolo on the Vera Stage. Lemolo’s Meagan Grandall, who graduated from Seattle University, will also be the first of a hand full of musicians to play CHBP with strong Capitol Hill ties. Benjamin Verdoes of Iska Dhaaf has a daytime gig teaching at Nova High School. Childbirth has Pony Time’s Stacy Peck and Kithkin has former CHS intern/current Seattle Weekly reporter Kelton Sears.The members of Constant Lovers and Gibraltar are known Hillebrities.

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SPD: Guard shot at 23/Jackson bank, suspect turns gun on self

A shooting outside a 23rd and Jackson bank left a security guard and a suspect in critical condition Thursday afternoon, according to Seattle Police. Officers responded to 911 calls of shots fired at the Central District Bank of America at around 11 AM.

Police said the 30-year-old suspect shot the 46-year-old guard with the guard’s own gun after he took it from him in a fight in the bank’s breezeway. The suspect then turned the gun on himself, according to the SPD Blotter.

Medics transported the security guard to the hospital in critical condition. The suspect was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries. He also suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder that may have occurred during the fight.

Officers closed off 23rd Ave between Jackson and King soon after the incident.

Mayor Ed Murray had recently gone on a “find-it-fix-it walk” around 23rd and Jackson as part of his summer public safety initiative. The shooting will be discussed at Thursday night’s EastPAC Community Meeting, which starts at 6:30 PM at Seattle University’s Chardin Hall.

UPDATE 7/25/14 10 AM: A SPD spokesperson said investigators have not yet released any information to clear up what lead to the shooting and if the incident was part of a robbery attempt. Police say the guard was shot with his own gun in the attack. The suspect has also not yet been taken into custody as he remains hospitalized in serious condition Friday morning. Q13 Fox has identified the 46-year-old guard as Bruce Golphenee. He also remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Challenger Spear brings Socialist Alternative (and ground game) fight to 43rd District establishment

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Jess Spear readily admits her bid to unseat a powerful, 10-term Olympia politician with strong name recognition will not be a day at the beach. House Speaker Frank Chopp is about as entrenched as you can get in his Capitol Hill-centered 43rd District. But Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist and Socialist Alternative candidate, says the political landscape is shifting in her favor. After taking leading roles in the successful $15 Now and Kshama Sawant campaigns, Spear is hoping to ride the momentum into Olympia.

“The political situation has changed,” she told CHS. “When we organize, we win, and we’re carrying that lesson forward.”

As ballots dropped last week for the August 5th primary, Spear will be staking out Capitol Hill street corners to get out her message of a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage and repealing the nearly $9 billion Boeing tax break state lawmakers approved last year. To those that say it can’t be done, Spear is quick to point out that many leveled the same charge against Sawant and $15 Now. Continue reading

SPD investigating two shooting targets left on Capitol Hill

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

Seattle police are investigating why two paper shooting targets riddled with bullet holes were left outside within a block of each other this month on Capitol Hill. The first was reported by staff at the League of Women Voters  at 18th and Madison, in what a spokesperson said was likely an attempt at intimidation for the groups’s recent endorsement of gun control legislation. The target was left outside the nonprofit’s door sometime over the 4th of July weekend.

CHS found out about the second shooting target on Friday when a CHS tipster emailed us after seeing it posted on a tree near the Shell gas station at 17th and Madison.

“I didn’t take a photo but there were bullet holes similar to the one left at LWV,” said the tipster in an email.

The tipster made a report to SPD, but a police spokesperson was unable to provide CHS with any details at the time. On Monday SPD said they had little information on who might be behind the targets and asked anyone with knowledge of the targets to call 911. From SPD’s Blotter: Continue reading

Yancy Noll murder trial pushed back to September

The trial for the man accused of gunning down a Broadway Market QFC wine steward in 2012 is slated to begin next month, according to court documents. The trial for Thomasdinh Bowman in the murder of Yancy Noll is now scheduled to start September 22nd after it was initially slated to begin in February. According to court documents, prosecutors expect the proceedings to last three to four weeks.

In September 2012, Bowman was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Noll in the head outside Noll’s at 15th Ave NE and 75th home. King County prosecutors have called it a “thrill kill” case. If convicted, prosecutors say Bowman, a former child prodigy and onetime resident of the E Republican Melrose Terrace co-op building, will face up to 31 years in prison.

Bowman’s defense attorney John Henry Browne entered a plea of not guilty on charges Bowman gunned down Noll in his vehicle just blocks from each of their homes. According to charging documents, Bowman pulled his car next to Noll’s at 15th Ave NE and 75th and shot Noll in the head. The two men are believed to have never met prior to the shooting.

12th Ave theft ring trial

Police seize allegedly stolen items from Darling’s Capitol Hill house in 2012. (Photo: CHS)

Police seize allegedly stolen items from Darling’s Capitol Hill house in 2012. (Photo: CHS)

Also scheduled for trial in September is the Capitol Hill man arrested in 2012 for allegedly running a sophisticated operation to sell stolen goods from his 12th and Mercer home.

Prosecutors say Rabindranath Darling was buying items he knew to be stolen and selling them on eBay. Darling, who pleaded not guilty in the case, is scheduled to appear in court September 2nd.

When police raided the 12th Ave house in November 2012, they needed a trailer to haul off all the evidence. Computers, tools, and bikes with an estimated worth of “well in excess of $100,000″ were allegedly found throughout the Capitol Hill property. Police reported finding a shed filled with professional grade musical mixing equipment, scuba gear, Tiffany brand jewelry, and “a large amount of one brand of makeup.” Boxes in the basement contained Rolex watches and expensive data storage equipment. Many items would later be traced to past burglaries around Capitol Hill and Seattle.

Booming rental market has kept phones ringing at Tenants Union — Plenty of calls from Capitol Hill

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

As rents on Capitol Hill continue to rise at breakneck rates, so are complaints of landlords trying to displace the residents paying those rents. Jonathan Grant, executive director of the Tenants Union, told CHS that calls about rent increases have become the top issue on the organization’s tenant’s rights hotline.

“In the last three years we’ve seen rising rents and displacement becoming the number one issue in Seattle,” he said.
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Say goodbye to the 47 as Murray’s Metro funding plan heads to November ballot

The-47-on-Bellevue-600x397The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved sending a measure to the November ballot to save King County’s Metro bus service, but it will be too little too late for Capitol Hill’s Route 47. The $45 million plan (PDF) would prevent several rounds of Metro cuts, but not before the 47 and several other lines are slashed in the first round of service reductions scheduled for September.

The measure, first proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of the county-wide Proposition 1 which failed to pass in April. The Seattle plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in the city.

The council rejected an amendment proposed by council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata that may have saved the 47 by replacing the sales tax increase with an annual $18 employee head count tax and increasing the tax paid by commercial parking lot operators from 12.5% to 17.5%. Those revenue streams could have been enacted by council before the September cuts took place.

On the plus side, Murray’s plan has a solid chance of passing. Over 66% of Seattle voters approved Prop. 1 and nearly 80% of voters in Capitol Hill’s 43rd legislative district approved the measure, which included road funding that the current plan leaves out.

After Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed Prop. 1, CHS’s Bus Stop said this about the 47′s deep history in the neighborhood:

The 47 is Seattle’s shortest trolley bus line, connecting downtown with one of the densest census tracts on the west coast of the US. For 105 years, a bus or streetcar has come up the Hill from downtown, dropped passengers off on Summit Avenue as it headed north, turned around once it hits Lakeview Boulevard, and then headed back down Bellevue Avenue. Its frequency may have gone up or down as the years elapsed, and the 13 streetcar turned into the 14 bus to Mount Baker, which was eventually decoupled to form the downtown-only 47. But this bus has always been here. That looks about to change.