Daily Digest: Greece Election Day set, Lakeville dad sentenced, Edwards’ defense rests its case

Nickalas Tabbert

Here is your Daily Digest for Wednesday, May 16:


Election day set in Greece

Greece will hold new elections on June 17 amid a political and economic crisis that could have effects far beyond the country's borders, CNN said Wednesday.

News of the election date came as Greeks pulled hundreds of millions of euros out of the banking system during the uncertainty the country will be able to stay in the European Union's single currency.

Just 10 days ago, Greeks voters punished the major parties for harsh budget cuts, leaving no party able to form a government, the article said.

A caretaker administration led by a senior judge will run the country until the new vote.  Interim Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos and his Cabinet will take their oaths of office on Thursday morning.

There is a fear that Greece will not have a government in place when it needs to make critical debt payments, which could in turn jeopardize its place in the eurozone, the article said.  One analyst warned that a Greek crisis could spread.

"If Greece exits the euro it won't be alone. Others will exit," said Paul Donovan, a global economist with UBS bank.

"There would be bank runs across multiple countries," he predicted. "Citigroup, for example, may not be exposed to Greece, but it may be exposed to Portugal, Spain, France. … It may be exposed to a company that's exposed to France, or exposed to exports to EU."

In a worst-case scenario, he said, "you're talking about widespread defaults in the corporate sector as well as the sovereign sector. It becomes very problematic."

As Greek politicians met Wednesday to set the new election date, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she regrets the suffering of the Greek people in the face of harsh government budget cuts.

"It's very bitter, obviously," she said of the austerity measures that have left some Greeks struggling to pay for food or utilities.  She also said that sacrifices "had to be made. … I think these are necessary measures that had to be taken."


Lakeville dad gets two years probation

Steven A. Cross has been sentenced to two years' probation for abandoning his 11-year-old son in July.

The sentence was handed down Wednesday in Dakota County District Court after the Lakeville father fled to California after the family's home went into foreclosure, the Pioneer Press said.

Cross, 60, was found guilty in January of child neglect for leaving his son in their home, telling him in letters to go live with neighbors. It took 30 minutes for the jury of three women and three men to convict Cross of gross misdemeanor child neglect.

Judge Robert King said after the January trial that he didn't expect to give more jail time to Cross, who already served about 40 days in custody.

Authorities say Cross left his son on July 18, 2011, and drove to Cambria, Calif., an artists' colony on the Pacific coast, where he found a job at a deli and lived in his van. He was arrested Aug. 29 and extradited (surrendered) to Minnesota. He was released from custody on bail in late September.

In letters Cross left for his son, he told the boy to bike to a friend's house and ask the friend's parents, John and Joanne Pahl, to care for him until late August.

A plan is under way to place Sebastian permanently with his mother, Katik Porter, 39, and eventually reunite him with Cross. State and federal laws encourage courts to return children to their parents when possible and to find a permanent home for children within a year of their being displaced, the article said.

Sebastian is living in foster care with his maternal great-aunt, where he has told a judge he would prefer to live.


Defense is short and sweet in Edwards case

The defense in ex-Sen. John Edwards’ campaign finance trial rested its case Wednesday without the former presidential candidate or his former mistress taking the stand.

Edwards’ attorneys ended their defense after just three days — in contrast to the nearly three weeks that federal prosecutors spent, the Los Angeles Times said. 

The defense attempted to show Edwards accepted more than $900,000 in illegal campaign contributions during his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination to hide his extra-marital affair.

Edwards’ lawyers are trying to convince a jury in a Greensboro, N.C. federal court that the payments from two wealthy benefactors were not political donations but gifts from friends to hide the affair and the child he fathered with mistress Rielle Hunter from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.

The judge told jurors that no more witnesses would be called, according to the Associated Press, which also said that closing arguments are likely to begin Thursday.

“The relative brevity of the defense case could be intended to send a message to the jury that the defense believes its case is strong,’’ Michael Rich, an Elon University School of Law professor who has attended the trial, told The Times. “Indeed by not engaging on a lot of the lurid details presented by the prosecution, the defense is suggesting that they don't really matter.”

Hampton Dellinger, a Chapel Hill, N.C., attorney who also has been attending the trial, said in a telephone interview that the defense decided to play it safe.

“The question is are they playing it too safe?’’ Dellinger added.

“Edwards is really pinning his hopes on the lack of direct evidence that he thought that his support for Rielle Hunter was a crime,’’ Dellinger said. “The problem for Edwards is that the government is going to argue that the very nature of the convoluted money trail is evidence that Edwards knew this was improper.’’