Man Arrested For Taking Naked Videos Of ESPN Reporter

CHICAGO, Illinois (WPIX) – A man accused of the surreptitious shooting of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in the nude, appeared Saturday in federal court.

Authorities arrested Michael David Barrett Friday at O’Hare International Airport. They charged him with interstate stalking after, they say, he shot and tried to distribute videos of Andrews naked in her hotel room. According to the FBI, Barrett tried to sell them to the celebrity web site TMZ and posted them online. A TMZ employee reportedly tipped off Andrews’ attorney.

In a statement today, Andrews gave thanks to “ESPN for its support during this difficult time.” She says she hopes the case will eventually help others, who have been similarly victimized: “For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking,” she said in a statement Saturday.

FBI agents said seven of the eight videos posted on the internet were taken through a peephole in September 2008. The videos — which authorities say were likely taken via cell phone — showed the 31-year-old reporter alone and undressed in hotel rooms in Nashville, Tenn. Investigators believe Barrett called several hotels to find out where Andrews was staying, and requested a room next to hers. They estimate that the eighth video was also taken at a hotel, but Andrews couldn’t identify which one.

According to court papers, Barrett put Andrews under surveillance to harass and intimidate her, and to cause substantial emotional distress. Andrews says she felt ashamed and embarrassed, and has had trouble sleeping and breathing. She also said she’s worried more footage will surface.

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Cops on Hunt for One-Shoed Mugger

Note to criminals: make sure your shoes are on tight so they don’t slip off and leave behind evidence for police. That’s advice one guy definitely needed as he – and three other suspects – mugged a man in Westchester.

According to Pelham Manor police, four suspects knocked down a man Wednesday night and robbed him of his phone and iPod. The group – who also threatened to shoot the victim – hopped into a stolen car, crashed it and then ran off into the woods.

Cops said they recovered a size 9 1/2 sneaker near the scene.

A woman told police a one-shoed man knocked on her door and asked to use her phone so he could call a cab. But, she said, he never waited around to make the call.

According to officer Jeff Carpenter, the suspects are still being sought.

Paterson Blames Racism For His Political Woes

Gov. David A. Paterson suggested during a radio interview Friday that race has been a factor in his political woes.

Linking himself with President Barack Obama and other black office holders, Paterson suggested the “crescendo” of calls for him not to seek re-election is because he’s black. “We’re not in a post-racial period,” he said.

In the interview, Paterson blamed the media for an “orchestrated” effort to stop his re-election. “You don’t hear this crusade that it’s time for the governor to step aside. It’s a game, and people who pay attention know that,” he said.

Paterson said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the nation’s only other black governor, is also being treated unfairly because of his race. He also named President Obama as the “next victim” of racially tinged attacks involving the debate over health care. Paterson made the remarks on a show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis on AM 1600 WWRL.

Paterson issued a statement late Friday clarifying his remarks, saying “certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes.” In his statement, he said: “At no point did I claim that this media piling-on effect was due to race – elected officials of all races get piled on by the media all the time; that is the nature of our business. What I did point out was that certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes.”

When asked about the stereotyping he was referring to, Paterson’s spokeswoman referenced a cable television talk show that claimed Paterson had been out at a nightclub at 1 a.m. In the interview Friday, the governor said he had been out, but was at a restaurant with his daughter and left around 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, political observers say voter dissatisfaction with Paterson is driven by the struggling economy, not race. Michael D’Innocenzo, former Democratic candidate for Congress, said Paterson is a victim of a bad economy and bad decisions. “Race is still an emotional trigger for people in our society,” D’Innocenzo said. “But I would say it’s far from being the major issue for Paterson.”

LIPA Offers Rebate For Turning In Old Fridge

After spending nearly $3 billion in federal money and prompting sales of more than 489,000 new vehicles, the Cash for Clunkers program will come to an end Monday. Car buyers will have one last chance to take advantage of the $3,500 or $4,500 incentives this weekend.

In the meantime, Long Island residents will soon reap benefits of a similar program with benefits. The Long Island Power Authority has announced plans to apply the Cash for Clunkers program to old inefficient refrigerators.

LIPA is offering its customers a $75 rebate through September when they purchase a standard-size Energy Star refrigerator larger than 7.5 cubic feet. Energy Star-qualified refrigerators are billed to being 40 percent more efficient than models sold in 2001.

LIPA officials say the program will expand later in the year and will offer customers an additional $30 to help remove, properly dispose and recycle the old fridge.

Refrigerators are the single highest energy-consuming kitchen appliance in most households, according to LIPA.

For more information on the rebate http://www.lipower.org.

Cops: Son Ignored Ailing Mother On Kitchen Floor For 2 Days

A Long Island man is accused of neglecting his own mother while she lay face-down and ailing on the kitchen floor of their Freeport home for two days.

Nassau County police say the seriously ill 64-year-old women fell in the kitchen on Tuesday. She had managed to drag herself toward the front door of the home by Thursday, police said. Through her entire ordeal, her son, Lacy Reid, took no apparent action to help his mother — stepping over and walking around his mother’s body.

It was only at 5 p.m. Thursday that Reid finally decided to call an ambulance. He was consequently arrested and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment. Police also say that Reid allegedly left his ill mother alone in their house on several occasions while he went to work.

According to authorities, the woman was found lying face down, malnourished and dehydrated by responding officers. She was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where she suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest. On Friday, she was put on life support and is listed in critical condition.

Reid is expected to be arraigned on a reckless endangerment charge on Friday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Family Of 1st NYC Swine Flu Victim to Sue City For $40M

Mitchell Weiner

Mitchell Weiner

The family of a Queens assistant principal who died after contracting the swine flu plans to launch a multi-million lawsuit against the city, PIX News has learned.

According to reports, Mitchell Weiner’s widow Bonnie and her three children claim the city failed to provide a safe work environment and did not respond in a timely fashion as the H1N1 virus spread throughout Intermediate School 238 in the Hollis section of Queens.

In a notice of claim, the family says the city didn’t release accurate information about the flu and took too long to tell Weiner he had come into contact with people who had contracted the potentially deadly virus. The 90-day deadline to file the claim is up next week.

55-year-old Mitchell Weiner died in May after complications related to the swine flu virus. His family plans on suing the city for $40-million in order to compensate for the loss of companionship, guidance and moral support for his three children.

Mayor Bloomberg at a news conference Tuesday said the city did all it could to ensure people’s safety as the swine flu spread.

“The city didn’t do anything wrong. We have to make decisions to keep the schools open and closed,” Bloomberg said. “Our obligation is to keep schools open. I’m sorry that somebody caught H1N1 and died from it. It’s tragic and our prayers are certainly with him.”