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CNN NEWSROOM

Miami Cop Shooting; Search Continues for Steve Fossett; Re- Deployment 101; O.J. Simpson Questioned by Police in Robbery

Aired September 14, 2007 - 13:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know the saying, not everything that happens -- or everything that happens stays in Vegas, but not really with this one. Not really with O.J. Simpson, anyway.
We're awaiting a news conference on Simpson's latest brush with the law. Just moments ago he told The Associated Press that he did take something but it belonged to him and he didn't break into the room.

Well, Las Vegas police have questioned him about an incident involving that sports memorabilia at a casino hotel, and police haven't arrested Simpson but their investigation isn't finished. And they say they don't think Simpson will be leaving town.

Again, we'll bring that police news conference to you live in Las Vegas when it happens.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A massive manhunt in Miami is over. A suspected cop killer is dead. And this just in to CNN: four people behind bars accused of helping Shawn Labeet elude about 1,000 police officers for hours.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Miami covering the new details.

Susan, what else can you tell us?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, all this means, of course, we're learning a little bit more about what happened all those hours between the time of the original shooting and how eventually police caught up with him.

We've got some photographs put together. I hope we can put them up on the screen now to show you the four people that are now under arrest.

As you are looking at the screen from left to right you are going to be seeing first one young woman, the first one you see with the brown hair -- if we've got those pictures ready -- there you go -- on the far left, Renee Dangelo. She is identified by police as the girlfriend of the suspected cop killer, Shawn Labeet. Next to her, Alba Bello, Lazaro Guardiola and Alain Gonzalez.

Now, all of them have been charged with being accessories after the fact. Police say they helped Labeet elude them for many hours, some in fact hiding him. He took refuge in one of their homes after the shooting took place. That's what investigators say. Now, remember, this whole thing began with what was a fairly routine burglary surveillance operation that was going on. Police say they saw a car starting to drive erratically. They say Labeet was inside.

They followed him. But he stopped, got out, and started firing at the police officers, shooting four of them, killing one of those four.

After that, he took off running, and now we know apparently he was hiding out in the home of reportedly Ms. Bello. And then eventually police caught up with him, but it was 12 hours later at an apartment complex about 30 miles to the north.

Police say they cornered him outside that complex. They say that he was fully armed, he had an extra ammo clip, and he was wearing body armor.

We expect to be hearing from police in just a little while, before the half hour is over, and learn more details about this investigation. Again, motive a big question here. What happened and how did he get the weapons, including an AK-47, and how exactly -- what were his movements between the time of 11:00 Thursday morning and when they caught up with him at midnight?

Back to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK. Susan Candiotti, we will monitor that 2:30 Eastern Time news conference.

Thanks.

LEMON: Eleven days and counting. The search for Steve Fossett continues today in Nevada. Searchers are back in the skies across the region on the lookout for any sign of the millionaire adventurer.

There's been no trace of Fossett since he took off from a private airstrip on Labor Day. He's wealthy, well known, and has a taste for the flamboyant, so it's probably not surprising that conspiracy theorists are joining the hunt for Steve Fossett.

Our Thelma Gutierrez is standing by for us in Minden, Nevada, with the very latest on this.

Conspiracy theories?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, I can tell you that as the search enters its 12th day, the authorities who are manning the phone line here at the command center say that all kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork with their own theories, from people who claimed to have sighted Steve Fossett in El Paso, to others who say they've had dreams of the actual crash, and they've called in and reported those dreams.

Now, the National Guard says they listen to all of these reports but remain focused on the ground and air search. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Somewhere in this vast wilderness between western Nevada and eastern California, in an area twice the size of New Jersey, search and rescue teams scour the rugged terrain for signs of famed aviator Steve Fossett.

MAJOR ED LOCKE, NEVADA NATIONAL GUARD: The best way to characterize this is looking for the needle in the haystack. This is 10,000 square miles.

GUTIERREZ: At the command center, tips are coming in from around the world, from as far away as the Netherlands and Belize, from Internet users trying to spot Fossett's blue and white plane in satellite images from Google Earth.

SGT. CHERI CRAMUTOLO, NEVADA NATIONAL GUARD: We found five wrecks, but none of them were from the amateurs from Google Earth. They were all from Civil Air Patrol or our helicopters or our C-130s.

GUTIERREZ: Dozens of tips come in each day, sightings of the plane, sightings of the wreckage, people who believe they've heard a crash.

LOCKE: There's a lot of peaks and valleys in our day, kind of to match the terrain, because we have a lot of false hopes that, you know, don't pan out.

GUTIERREZ: So far, nothing. Not even an emergency signal transmitted from his plane.

So where is the 63-year-old multimillionaire who appears to have vanished without a trace?

LOCKE: There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there -- and, you know, that he doesn't want to be found.

GUTIERREZ: Major Ed Locke says as time goes by the speculation has become more outlandish.

LOCKE: We have just about heard them all from he's been captured at area 51, aliens have abducted him. Psychics have called in with reports as to where he can be found.

We will not concern ourselves with that. Our most important priority is finding Mr. Fossett.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUTIERREZ: Now, the National Guard thought they had a pretty good tip yesterday. One of the Google tipsters reported seeing some wreckage in a nearby lake. They sent a Black Hawk out to take a look, and unfortunately, it just turned up to be a few boulders in the lake.

In addition, they say that Peggy Fossett, Steve's wife, came forth yesterday and told authorities that while there was speculation that her husband may have been wearing a watch with an emergency transmitter, unfortunately he was not wearing that watch on the flight.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that report.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: President Bush, the commander in chief, had lunch and some face time with marines today at the base in Quantico, Virginia. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Bush said he told the marines that he listens to the military commanders in the field, and that he's making sure they have the flexibility and the troops needed to complete the mission there.

PHILLIPS: Well, you heard it right here from the president's mouth, some troops are coming home from Iraq. Some sooner, some later. We're going to have Democratic reaction to that in just a moment. But first, here's some of what President -- here's a little bit of what President Bush had to say last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this success, General Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces. He has recommended that we not replace about 2,200 marines scheduled to leave Anbar province later this month.

In addition, he says it will soon be possible to bring home an Army combat brigade for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops by Christmas. And he expects that by July we will be able to reduce our troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15. Over time, our troops will shift from leading operations to partnering with Iraqi forces, and eventually to overwatching those forces.

As this transition in our mission takes place, our troops will focus on a more limited set of tasks, including counterterrorism operations and training, equipping, and supporting Iraqi forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: The numbers between 21,000 and 20,000 troops out of Iraq by this time next year. That will bring the U.S. military presence down to a level seen before the so-called troop surge.

These figures echo the recommendations of General David Petraeus. He and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq say they'll deliver their next official progress report in the spring.

The immediate voice of the Democratic Party was that of Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed. He says he was expecting to see a plan to end the war or a reason to keep fighting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Tonight, a nation eager for change in Iraq heard the president speak about his plans for the future. But once again, the president failed to provide either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it. The president rightfully invoked the valor of our troops in his speech, but his plan does not amount to real change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And of course, whenever presidents talk, there's never a shortage of dissectors and dissenters, supporters and critics.

CNN's Larry King got an earful from several of the people who want the president's job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought the president gave an excellent address tonight. I think the idea of return on success is a good idea. The idea that we're doing to -- we're going to determine what we do in Iraq based upon our ability to provide safety, security and a stable situation in which we emerge from Iraq with an ally in the terrorist war against us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The underlying question is, how long are we going to wait for them to make some political progress? No one believes that there can be stability in Iraq without there being some political progress there. And until and if that political progress occurs, there will not be long-term stability in Iraq.

So the question is, how long is America going to be there, putting American men and women's lives in the way, billions of dollars of taxpayer money, while we wait for them to do what they're supposed to do?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we could be in Iraq for a long period of time. We've been in the Balkans for years. We've been in South Korea for years. But the point is, are we going to have American casualties?

Are we going to have a strategy that succeeds and Americans are playing a support role and eventually leaving? I think we can achieve more success within months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Straight to Las Vegas again. We are waiting for that live news conference to start on behalf of the Las Vegas police. We're waiting to hear more about O.J. Simpson's latest brush with the law.

They questioned him, police did, about a casino break-in. Apparently, there was an alleged theft at the Palace Station Hotel last night that involves sports memorabilia.

Here is what O.J. Simpson tells The Associated Press. He says he took the memorabilia that belonged to him from a Las Vegas casino hotel but he didn't break into the room. Simpson goes on to say he was conducting a "sting operation" to collect his belongings when he was escorted into the room at the Palace Station Casino. Police said he was a suspect in that break-in at the hotel.

I'm now being told this live news conference is going to start in about half an hour, 2:45 Eastern Time. And we'll take it live.

LEMON: Lots of homes for sale in your neighborhood. I'm sure there are.

Gerri Willis says beware of scammers who might have fraud in mind.

PHILLIPS: Sometimes being an empowered patient means having an empowered advocate. We're going to show you how to go to bat for someone you love.

LEMON: And going to bat for Britney. The hosts of "American Idol" say they can save her career, but only if she does what Simon says.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The Pentagon has its marching orders: get one combat brigade out of Iraq by Christmas, get about 15,000 more troops out by summertime. How to do it? Military officials will tell you that departing a combat zone can be as tricky as entering one.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, here with the details.

Hi, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Kyra.

Today, the Pentagon will be having a news conference later today with Defense Secretary Bob Gates and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Peter Pace. We expect to hear a little more about the specifics of the re- deployment plan, the re-deployment adjustments that would bring that Army brigade out of Iraq come December. We're told that the brigade has already been identified, but there's still some planning to be done, and we hope to find out.

One of the things that the Pentagon is looking at is getting the soldiers who are there the longest out first as they do this re- deployment. So it won't necessarily be the so-called surge brigades that went in earlier this year that come out first.

Other things we expect to hear from the defense secretary when he meets the press today, a little bit about his thinking, his input in this withdrawal timetable. Also, his reaction and his perspective on the benchmark report that shows, again, very limited progress in Iraq. Only a change in one benchmark rating from the White House report since the last time they reported it.

And also, by the way, Kyra, we might hear a little bit about that question of those -- just what happened with those loose nukes, the B- 52 bomber that flew from one part of the country to another with nuclear warheads onboard. I mean, that's the kind of thing that we're told over and over just can't happen because of the controls on nuclear weapons. A major investigation under way into that, so we may hear about that as well -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: With regard to the troops coming home, Jamie, with the next year, do we know yet how the decision will be made on who does come home? For example, how many Army, Marine, Navy, and from what parts of the country?

MCINTYRE: Well, I think they pretty much have an idea. When General Petraeus makes those recommendations, he has got some units in mind. But they then need to sort of take that and make sure it meets all the military needs, weigh it against the promises that they've made to the troops, take a look at the troops that have been there the longest.

As you know, a lot of the troops were extended to 15 months. Some of them may not have to do that whole 15 months now. They may come back after their original 12-month deployment. And then they have to assess how many of the support troops that they also might be able to bring home in order to get the troop levels down to that 130,000 level everybody is talking about.

PHILLIPS: All right. Jamie McIntyre, our chief Pentagon correspondent.

Appreciate it.

The top Pentagon brass, Defense Secretary Roberts Gate and Joint Chiefs chair General Peter Pace, will be taking reporters' questions later today. The subject, Iraq. The troops, the numbers and the timelines, 3:30 Eastern.

CNN is on it live.

LEMON: Well, it's 2:18 Eastern, and three of the stories we're working on right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're awaiting a news conference from Las Vegas to have police explain the link between O.J. Simpson and an incident at a casino hotel in Las Vegas. Someone allegedly tried to take sports memorabilia from a room, and police questioned Simpson but didn't arrest him.

Tomorrow marks the first day of the rest of Alberto Gonzales' life. His last day as attorney general is today. Solicitor General Paul Clement takes over Monday until a replacement is confirmed.

And Defense Secretary Robert Gates will talk about troop levels later this afternoon. This comes a day after President Bush announced his plan to bring nearly 6,000 troops home by Christmas.

Put down that cell phone. A new California law orders teens to lose all the gadgets when they take to the wheel.

Trying to terminate trouble on the road, next, in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BUSINESS REPORT)

PHILLIPS: The next time a loved one is sick, speak up. Experts say there are some definite do's and don'ts when it comes to doctors and hospitals and ensuring that your loved one gets the best possible care.

CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When someone you love gets sick, they enter into this very complicated and sometimes very intimidating health care system. And experts say if you can help them navigate through the doctors and the hospitals and the nurses and the paperwork, that you can make a big difference in the kind of health care that they receive.

Now, for this week's "Empowered Patient" column on CNN.com, I spoke to people who say that they actually prevented medical mistakes from happening to their loved ones by being there. And so of the five suggestion that is we have about what to do when your loved one is sick, that's probably the most important one -- you have to be there and you have to stay on top of what's supposed to be happening to your loved one.

For example, what medicines are they supposed to get? Make sure they're getting the right medicines. What procedures are they supposed to be getting? And don't be scared to intervene if you think that something isn't going right.

And another tip we have is that, make sure that your loved one is honest with their doctor. Sometimes people are too embarrassed to tell their doctor something or they don't want to be perceived as being a bad patient, and so they don't tell the doctor everything. You're there to make sure that they do tell the doctor everything.

For other tips on how to help someone when they're sick, go on to CNN.com/health. If you scroll down, you will see my photo, and that's where the column is.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: OK. We want to remind you that we're waiting for more on that developing story out of Las Vegas, Nevada. O.J. Simpson allegedly breaking into a casino hotel room.

He says, no, that's not the deal, I was going after my sports memorabilia that belongs to me. Police say he may have been trying to break in.

We'll have the latest right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: I'm Kyra Phillips live in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. New troubles today for O.J. Simpson. This time it happened in Las Vegas.

PHILLIPS: Details slow to emerge, but Simpson tells the AP he was running his own sting operation to get back some sports memorabilia.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Two live events that we're following for you right now. First, out of Florida, in Miami you remember the shooting that took place, one officer died, one still fighting to save her leg in a hospital, two other officers treated and released. It was a day-long manhunt for Shawn Sherwin Labeet, 25 years old. He died just before midnight. After that long manhunt, police finally cornered him and shot him with an assault rifle.

He was on a traffic stop earlier in the day while driving erratically. When police pulled him over, he opened fire. Now four people arrested and accused of helping him avoid police for hours before he was shot to death by authorities.

We're waiting for that news conference live from Miami.

LEMON: We're also waiting for another news conference happening in Las Vegas. As we get new information in, O.J. Simpson apparently named a possible suspect, as police there are calling him -- that's according to the Associated Press -- in a confrontation in a casino hotel there.

Simpson said that he heard about this group, this is according to the Associated Press, these collectors, and they may have had some of his stuff and that they've had it for a long time and had been selling it. He was told that by a friend.

He was in Las Vegas for a friend's wedding. Then he arranged somehow to meet the auction house owner. He saying, he was escorted into the room and he was conducted a so-called sting operation, to collect his belongings, when he was escorted into that room. It happened at the Palace Station Casino.

That is the only comments O.J. Simpson is making on this case. We're going to bring it to you live as soon as that press conference gets under way to try to get some answers from investigators, and O.J. Simpson, if he does choose to respond again, in this case. We'll bring it to you live.

PHILLIPS: Put down that cell phone and keep your hands on the wheel. That message coming from California lawmakers to teenage drives. Details from Patti Lee of affiliate station KTVU.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATTI LEE, REPORTER, KTVU (voice over): Levita Fernandez (ph) got her permanent license two months ago, and driving is not yet second nature.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pretty scary, but it's fun, you know. I'm getting used to it still.

LEE: She admits some teens are susceptible to distractions like the radio, but also PDAs, pagers, and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?

LEE: Cell phones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them take their phone calls, but they try to keep it under like a minute. Normally it's just like, hi, I'll call you back, or something when I get home.

LEE: But most people aren't so disciplined. According to the CHP, cell phone use is the leading cause of distracted driver accidents. And a Ford Motor study revealed teen drivers are four times more distracted than adults by cell phone use.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess it's better for people to not crash, but sometimes you have to talk on the phone.

LEE: Today Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that bans anyone under the age of 18 from using electronic devices while driving.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: We just came out with a report that the majority of traffic accidents, among teenagers, is because they're distracted. Because of cell phones, laptops, or doing their makeup, or whatever it may be, eating in a car, and so on. So we tried to really lower that number.

LEE: The law takes effect July 1st of next year. Also going into effect, a law that requires all drivers over 18 to use hands-free devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we see somebody with a phone up to their ear, they can be stopped for that. That's anybody of any age.

LEE: Parents of teenagers say they believe the new law will be helpful.

LORRAINE RUMLEY, PARENT: It does give some teeth to parents' rules. We like to believe they listen to us and, you know, think we know everything but --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Violators will be fined $20 for the first offense, $50 thereafter. Again, that was Patti Lee of our affiliate station KTVU reporting.

LEMON: Still no word about what Arnold Schwarzenegger kids think of this new law. He has three of them who are teenagers. There's a new law that says the kids cannot use cell phones when they're driving. So we went down and we spoke to some people in the CNN Center to see what they thought about it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (on camera): Governor Schwarzenegger, in California, passing a law saying kids 16, 17 years old should not be using a cell phone or texting behind the wheel and he's passed a law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think anyone should be, kids or adults. I think it's dangerous.

LEMON: Why more so for teenagers though do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they're constantly texting. So obviously a 16-year-old with a text, and holding onto a wheel is incredibly dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you have to call, or text, that it is so important that you have to do it while you're behind the wheel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A clinical psychologist, I'm very concerned about the brain and how it's being developed. And I don't think -- they can only tolerate so much input, and they need to pay attention to driving. I would absolutely agree with him.

LEMON: Yeah? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think teenagers are very impulsive in some respects, and not always good problem-solvers. And they need to learn how to do that, and I would say absolutely no cell phones in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can watch other drivers, especially at intersections, and that's really what's wild is to watch people at stoplights. They've got enough on their mind, let alone talking into a telephone.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: You may not want to be talking on your phone, but you definitely want to be listening to the NOAA radio I would imagine to see where there might be some possible bad weather.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Still waiting for the news conference out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Waiting for police to step up the mics there. We want to hear more about O.J. Simpson's latest brush with the law. Was he involved with this break-in or not? He says he was on a sting operation. Police say, not so sure. We're waiting for them to tell us more.

We've all heard of the subprime mortgage mess and rise in foreclosures, but have you heard the one about mortgage fraud?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: So, they were really just robbing the bank?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. It's absolutely bank robbery without a gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: One homeowner busted a home flipping scam that was jeopardizing her neighborhood. We'll have that straight in CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Chad Myers has been checking all the severe weather across the country.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: O.J. Simpson apparently in trouble with the law again, at least according to Las Vegas police. There's the podium there, and the backdrop. We're waiting for Las Vegas police to come up to the microphones and do a news conference for us, to explain some of these possible charges against O.J. Simpson.

They're calling him an alleged suspect, whatever that means. Some memorabilia apparently taken from a hotel room or tried to be taken from a hotel room. O.J. Simpson responded to the Associated Press saying he did take some stuff, but it belonged to him and he was escorted into the room, and that he was doing a sting operation.

We'll get answers, coming up, from a news conference.

PHILLIPS: So, now he's a cop?

LEMON: He's going to say he's doing a sting operation, and he's looking for the real killer. So there you go.

PHILLIPS: Got it.

Besides its rising home foreclosure numbers, Georgia has another problem, mortgage fraud. Georgia is one of the nation's worst five states for home con artists, but some residents are taking this problem into their own hands. CNN Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis has one homeowner's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice over): Stone Mountain, Georgia, it looks like a typical upscale suburb, but in 1996 stay-at-home mom Ann Fulmer got suspicious about strange doings in her neighborhood.

(On camera): What was going on in the neighborhood? What kind of activity? Were you worried, concerned?

ANN FULMER, DISCOVERED MORTGAGE FRAUD: Not at the beginning. It was just kind of odd, but over time it did become a matter of concern because the people who moved in started moving from one house to another house.

People were paying way too much for houses and then not bother to move in. But UPS was regularly delivering packages there, which I found out later from the FBI was a likely indicator of drug trafficking activity. We had a shooting at one of these houses, about a quarter of a mile away from my kids' elementary school.

WILLIS (voice over): As a former practicing lawyer concerned for her family's safety, Fulmer decided to investigate.

FULMER: It wasn't until I was able to get down to the courthouse and start looking at deed records, and sanitation and water records, that I realized it wasn't just these 18 or 20 houses in my neighborhood. It was houses all over the county. Because I kept seeing the same names in the transactions over and over and over again --

WILLIS: Fulmer uncovered a scam known as illegal flipping. It's carried out by a highly organized and professional team of criminals. Usually including a real estate agent, appraiser, a fake buyer, loan officer, and/or settlement agent. Here is how it works. John Doe, a con artist, buys your house for $200,000, but has the home appraised for $400,000. Jane Doe, a second buyer uses a fake identity to get approved for a $400,000 loan. The loan officer approves the loan, and just like that, the original owner gets their $200,000 in cash. John and Jane Doe, the loan officer, and the settlement agent split the rest of the money, $200 grand.

And Jane Doe defaults on the mortgage. The home goes into foreclosure. And the scammers move on to the next house.

(On camera): So they were really just robbing the bank?

FULMER: Absolutely. It's absolutely bank robbery without a gun.

WILLIS (voice over): Such a pattern of foreclosures causes property values to go down, after the inflated appraisals drive property taxes up. While Fulmer pleaded with law enforcement to act she quietly investigated these shady deals.

(on camera): OK, so Ann, this is one of the houses that was flipped just down the street from you, right?

FULMER: That's right. It was occupied by some of the flippers for about two years, which was terrifying because --

WILLIS: Why?

FULMER: I was trying to get them arrested. I was trying to get them thrown out of the neighborhood. I was working with the FBI at that point and I was terrified that they were going to find out what I was doing.

WILLIS (voice over): And they did. Since 2002 federal authorities arrested more than 15 of the flippers in Fulmer's neighborhood, with some sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

DAVID NAHMIAS, U.S. ATTORNEY: What Ann was able to do is to get us in law enforcement and people in the community generally to understand that this was a problem devastating whole neighborhoods, whole communities, and that the real victims were these individuals whose homes were being destroyed in value.

WILLIS: Ann now trains FBI agents and lenders with a company, InterThinks (ph) to recognize the signs of mortgage fraud, which costs lenders between $1 and $4 billion last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

To date, Fulmer says she has helped put away more than 300 mortgage fraudsters.

(On camera): The moral of the story is mortgage fraud can happen anywhere, right?

FULMER: It can and does happen anywhere. That's one of the sad things we see. We tend to think of it as a problem more in inner-city neighborhoods where the property prices are depressed, and in old neighborhoods. But the fact is it happens in those neighborhoods, in middle class suburbia, and all the way up to and including multi- million dollar mansions in gated suburbia.

WILLIS: Gerri Willis, CNN, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: You can see Gerri Willis' "Open House" Saturday mornings, 9:30 Eastern, right here on CNN; on Headline News Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

"American Idol" is extending a helping hand to Britney Spears. The details on how Randy, Paula, and Simon want to give her a boost, when CNN NEWSROOM continues.

LEMON: But first, today's news quiz. Why is Regis Philbin in "The Guinness Book of World Records"? The answer in a moment. But how do we say his name?

Reeg!

PHILLIPS: Come on, Reeg. She's got that kind of cool, raspy kind of voice.

LEMON: Reeg! Not that like that?

PHILLIPS: OK, now you have sound like an old woman that smokes a lot.

LEMON: Reeeeg! The answer when we come back.

PHILLIPS: Oh, boy.

LEMON: "American Idol" judges stepping up to the plate and Ben Affleck's directional debut hits a snag. Our Entertainment Correspondent Brooke Anderson joins us from Los Angeles with the details.

Brooke, I have to tell you, we're waiting for two press conferences to start. So we may have to cut it short. Hopefully we won't. OK, "American Idol" judges and Ben Affleck, take it away.

ANDERSON: Let's start with Ben Affleck. You're right, his movie has hit a snag, Don. It was supposed to be Affleck's big directorial debut on the silver screen but now it won't be seen everywhere, at least for a while.

The UK release of "Gone, Baby, Gone" is on hold because of the story's similarities to case of missing British girl Madeleine McCann.

McCann disappeared from her parents' Portuguese vacation spot back in early May. Since the girl's disappearance the story of Madeleine McCann has gained international attention.

"Gone, Baby, Gone" had set a December 28th UK release. The thriller is about a four-year-old who goes missing. Recently the distributors released a statement saying, in part, we have been closely following the case and have decided to delay the release of the film in the UK.

But, don, "Gone, Baby, Gone" is still set to be released in the U.S., in limited release, October 19th.

LEMON: OK. I guess that's good news somewhat for Ben Affleck, right?

ANDERSON: Right. It's understandable.

LEMON: You know what I've been dying to talk about, I haven't done entertainment? This Britney thing? ANDERSON: Oh, you've been dying to talk about it?

LEMON: I kind of feel bad for her because -- Kyra is like -- what? I do. It's obvious that she may be in a little bit of trouble and I think we're so hard on her. She's 25 years old. That's just my own thing.

ANDERSON: She's young. A lot of people do feel that these actions lately are indicative of more serious problems, Don, so a lot of people do have sympathy for her.

LEMON: Yeah. And just being under the microscope. None of us can imagine. We're in television, but not that sort of microscope.

ANDERSON: No, absolutely not.

LEMON: And when you have to deal with everyday problems and every day the media is following you around, or whatever. I'm not making excuses for her, but I can certainly understand and the criticism, I think, it's just a bit much.

ANDERSON: It's a lot.

LEMON: So, anyway. Go ahead. Simon Cowell wants to help her, right?

ANDERSON: They want to help her out. They can't help themselves. They're a talented trio in Hollywood and they want to give her a helping hand.

All three judges from "American Idol" are offering to help the once really popular pop star, this on the heels of her plain awful VMA performance. Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, all say they can turn her professional career around.

Cowell says, quote, "We are serious. We plan to buy her underpants, get her bigger shorts to perform in, and get her away from her stupid friends."

Abdul says, "We always have time for Britney. We love her."

And Jackson adds, "We'd love to take care of you, Spears. We'll make you a superstar again."

Spears is planning to release a new album later this year. The question is, Don, will she accept that help? And should she be focusing on her career right now, or her personal issues?

LEMON: Well, we shall see. It's always good to take care of yourself, whatever it is.

ANDERSON: Yes.

LEMON: OK, backing away from Britney news now. It's hard to believe that Regis Philbin, morning TV show that's been on for 20 years? Reeg!? ANDERSON: Say it for me one more time.

LEMON: Reeeeeg!?!

ANDERSON: Very good, very good. Yes, it is hard to believe, 20 years still going strong. The show celebrated today by inviting former original co-host Kathy Lee Gifford back.

There she is, looking great.

The show looked back on the most memorable moments from the past two decades, and presented videos of Regis' family, Kathy Lee's clan, and current co-host's Kelly Ripa's kids, through the years. Everybody got a little bit emotional. And 54-year-old Kathy Lee spent 15 years on the show before departing.

Let's turn now to "Showbiz Tonight". Coming up tonight, does Britney Spears really matter? Startling new attacks on her talent from some of the biggest names in music. Does Britney matter to the music industry anymore, or has she become irrelevant? A special report. We've got it. TV's most provocative entertainment news show; "Showbiz Tonight", 11:00 Eastern and Pacific on "Headline Prime".

Don, good to see you.

LEMON: We'll be watching. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

ANDERSON: You, too.

LEMON: Before the break we asked you why is Regis Philbin in "The Guinness Book of World Records"? Well, the answer, he holds the record for the most hours on camera. Reeg, by the way, started as a page, for "The Tonight Show" -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: We continue to wait for two news conferences, one out of Florida, one out of Las Vegas. Let's start in Las Vegas, where O.J. Simpson possibly could have been involved in a break-in in a casino hotel room. He says he was on a sting operation. Police aren't quite sure if they believe that story.

Then, out of Miami, we're waiting for more on those four people that have been arrested, accused of helping Shawn Sherwin Labeet avoid police for hours after he shot four police officers, killing one. This man right here.

We're going to take a quick break. More from the CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead.

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