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Jane Velez-Mitchell

Casey Anthony Pleads Guilty to Check Fraud

Aired January 25, 2010 - 19:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Casey Anthony speaks to the court, sobbing uncontrollably as she pleads guilty to check fraud. Casey is accused of killing her beautiful daughter Caylee. So can she now be called a convicted criminal during her murder trial? Meanwhile, the state drops a bombshell, warning it could be years before the murder trial even starts.

And is Misty Croslin keeping toxic secrets? The grandmother of missing Haleigh Cummings is pointing the finger at Ronald`s ex-wife. Misty was the last person to see little Haleigh alive. Now she`s sitting in jail on a slew of drug charges. Is there something Misty`s not telling cops, and will her new arrest give police the leverage they need?

Plus, is the cloud of mystery finally lifted? What really happened the night Tiger Woods wrecked his SUV? Stunning new published reports claim to have information from inside the house. Did Elin really send text messages to Rachel Uchitel, posing as Tiger? We`ll have all the juicy details.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, accused child murderer Casey Anthony sobs as she speaks out in court. Casey pleaded guilty to check fraud charges and now has six felony convictions on her record. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me your name, please.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I have in front of me a plea form, and it appears to have your signature on the back of it. Is this your signature?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So you`ve signed this, correct?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey was charged with 13 counts. She admitted to swiping her friend Amy Huizenga`s checkbook and forging her signature, stealing more than 600 bucks.

Casey was caught on camera using the money on a shopping spree at Target, reportedly buying clothing, a case of Bud Light, sunglasses, even lingerie, all this while her precious daughter Caylee was missing.

Casey spoke out in court and tearfully apologized. Listen to Casey from earlier today.


CASEY ANTHONY: I just wanted to let everyone know that I`m sorry for what I did. I take complete and full responsibility for my actions, and I`d like to sincerely apologize to Amy. I wish I would have been a better friend.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now the judge sentenced Casey to 412 days, time served, in jail, and probation if she`s ever released.

So how are these brand-new developments going to affect Casey`s murder trial? Could it determine whether or not she takes the stand? If Casey decides to testify at her murder trial, prosecutors can now say she is a convicted felon. If she doesn`t testify, under Florida law, it cannot be brought up.

Also, when will this murder trial actually take place? Could it be five years? That`s what prosecutors warned today. We`ve got all the details and I want to hear from you. Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. We have former prosecutor Mark Eiglarsh. Also with us, criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub. We`re delighted to have Judge Larry Seidlin, who presided over the Anna Nicole Smith case and who has a book out about the star`s tragic death, "The Murder of Anna Nicole Smith," as well as clinical psychologist Dr. Dale Archer.

But we begin with a very special guest tonight, Casey Anthony`s defense attorney, Jose Baez.

Jose, thank you so much for joining us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How did you and your client arrive at the decision to plead guilty in the check fraud case?

BAEZ: Well, she always wanted to plead to this case. It was always a concern of hers. She was always very sorry for what she did to Amy. In fact, if you look back at one of her visitations with her mother, one of the very first things she said to her mother was, "Tell Amy I`m sorry." And this is something that she`s always been very ashamed of and asked us to resolve, and fortunately, we were able to do that today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody`s wondering how this will impact her murder trial. I think the most damaging thing about it is that there`s actually videotape of Casey buying a case of Bud Light, as well as lingerie, bras, sunglasses, and this is during the timeframe, according to prosecutors, that her little daughter is missing. How do you explain that?

BAEZ: Well, she bought a bra at Target, and it`s being reported as lingerie. I understand that.

You know, it was a mistake she made, and today she lived up to it and apologized for it. And she`s always been very sorry and lost a friend as a result of this, and hoping in some way, shape or form that her friend will forgive her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You argue that Casey is being discriminated against, saying that she`s unpopular. So I want to play you, from today`s hearing earlier today. Listen.


BAEZ: Miss Anthony has had to endure somewhat of a situation of discrimination, because she is an unpopular individual.

Five years is -- in our position, is extremely absurd. I could theoretically point a gun to someone`s head, threaten to kill them, commit an overt act in furtherance of that threat, and still get less time in prison than what has been offered in this case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That was you in court earlier today. Jose, are you happy with today`s outcome, time served, plus a year probation if Casey gets out of jail? And if so, how can you then say she`s discriminated against, if the judge issued a fair ruling?

BAEZ: Well, my argument was in reference to the state attorney`s method of charging her. I don`t know of any case, and we did the research, of any case, where a person passed four bad checks and was charged with 13 felony counts.

In addition to that, the plea offer was five years. I just can`t fathom the state attorney`s office offering someone with no prior criminal history, for an economic crime of $654, a five-year plea offer.

And that`s the discrimination that I was referring to: the pressure that the state attorney`s office is under to treat Casey Anthony like public enemy No. 1, and I`m in total disagreement of that. Total disagreement of that. And anyone who can stand up there and argue this is just a normal course of business is really being intellectually dishonest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me get back to the unpopularity that you referred to. And if you ask most people who`ve been following this case, the unpopularity stems from Casey`s behavior after her little girl went missing, that she didn`t call police for a month -- in fact, when police were called it was her mother who called -- and that she was seen partying in that time frame. She was seen buying Bud Light, and she also got a tattoo that said "the beautiful life."

What`s your explanation of that behavior? And do you understand why it creates some unpopularity?

BAEZ: Well, I understand people`s concerns about the facts that are reported. I understand that completely. But Casey Anthony is presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty in a court of law. That has not happened, and she`s entitled to the presumption of innocence just like anyone else.

And if we`re going to be dealing with another case, she should be treated completely exactly and totally like every single other person. And that was -- that is where the unpopularity aspect stand -- comes from.

When they -- if you remember, when they arrested her, they sent an armada of ten police cars to go pick her up for passing bad checks and made a huge spectacle of this in front of the cameras. And now they want to charge her over $5,517 of costs of investigations for an economics crime of $654. I think that`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. Obviously -- yes, go ahead.

BAEZ: No, I think that speaks for itself. Those numbers speak for itself. She wasn`t treated like anyone else since the moment she was arrested. And that`s all we were asking for. That`s all we can advocate for, and that`s all that anyone should expect, because today it`s Casey Anthony. Tomorrow it could be someone else for other motives or reasons.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now I think you`d agree there`s no love lost between your team and the prosecution team. In fact, some fireworks really erupted in court today. We`re going to show them to you right now. Take a look.


BAEZ: We called this motion the pot calling the kettle black...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s not go there. Let`s not go there. You know.

BAEZ: I understand that, but what I`m trying to get to the point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get into this, and both sides have more to do.

BAEZ: I totally agree.


BAEZ: What the problem is, how many times have we filed motions to compel in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re doing it anyway. OK? There`s a problem. It`s a tough case. Both sides are a little hot under the collar at times.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It seems to be getting ugly in court, and we`re a long way from the trial itself. And the prosecution is saying, if things keep going at this pace, it could be years before the trial, the murder trial of your client, Casey Anthony, occurs.

And they took shots at you, saying that you`ve taken your sweet time questioning witnesses and have still not turned over a list of witnesses that you plan to call. Give me your side of the story there.

BAEZ: Well, anyone who`s followed this case closely can see that we`re doing as thorough a job as we possibly can. We`re on the attack 24/7.

As far as it being -- it`s an adversary process. I don`t -- we don`t hold anything personal against the prosecutors. But we`re not going to let them run over our client, especially -- we believe in our client`s innocence, and we want to defend her life, and that`s exactly what we`re doing. And sometimes it`s just not going to go over nicely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One quick question, because I only have a couple seconds, but there are some who feel this could be a precursor for a plea bargain in the murder case. Are you going to plea bargain the murder case?

BAEZ: Absolutely not. Casey Anthony is not guilty. She`s pled not guilty, and this is going to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jose Baez, thank you so much for coming on this show, ISSUES, and I hope you come back soon.

BAEZ: Thank you, Jane. Take care.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on Casey Anthony`s tear-filled court appearance, and we`re taking your calls on all this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Also harsh words for Misty Croslin, the grandmother of little Haleigh Cummings, who`s missing, thinks Misty knows a lot more about what happened to this beautiful child. Could Misty`s time behind bars jar her memory?

But first, Casey Anthony breaks down in court. It`s a far cry from her prison outrage in 2008. Is this a new side of Casey Anthony?


CASEY ANTHONY: Can someone let me -- come on.

CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY`S MOTHER: Casey, hold on, sweetheart. Settle down.

CASEY ANTHONY: Nobody`s letting me speak. You want me to talk and give me...

CINDY ANTHONY: All right. I`ll listen to you.

CASEY ANTHONY: ... three seconds to say something. I`m not in control over any of this.




CASEY ANTHONY: I just wanted to let everyone know that I`m sorry for what I did. I take complete and full responsibility for my actions. And I`d like to sincerely apologize to Amy. I wish I would have been a better friend.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Casey Anthony in court today as she asked to speak to the court and apologize before bursting into tears. This is the most we`ve heard from her in quite a while.

Casey pleaded guilty to check fraud and was convicted of six felonies today.

And we`re also welcoming "In Session" correspondent Beth Karas. And she was outside the courtroom today, is going to give her analysis in a second. But a little birdie told me that the entire time Jose Baez was speaking, Mark Eiglarsh was shaking his head.

Mark, you are the one who said that he was going to plea bargain. He said no. What do you make of all -- of his comments?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: OK. First of all, let`s go with the positive. This is the new me. I want to stay positive, Jane, in 2010.


EIGLARSH: The positive is he is doing everything that he can to defend a very challenging case and a very challenging client. So there you go, Jose. Good job.

But he brought up intellectually dishonest and -- and called other people that. I want to throw it back at him.

First, his client didn`t plead guilty to the charges today because she felt bad. She pled guilty because she couldn`t find a way to beat the charges. That`s why my clients plead guilty, and that`s why everybody does, typically. So for him to suggest that it was about her accepting responsibility, yes, that`s one part, but that`s not the No. 1 motivation.

Secondly, you asked him very direct questions about the tattoo, about not reporting her child missing, and he didn`t answer. He cannot answer those questions because what she did was morally reprehensible. And I`ll tell you this. The presumption of innocence applies to the jurors in the courtroom. We, the court of public opinion, can feel however we want about his client. That`s it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got it. All right. Phone lines lighting up.

Priscilla, California, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane.


CALLER: I`ve been watching you from the infamous Santa Maria, California, and I`ve been watching you from KTLA. I love you.


CALLER: Love your show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Thank you. What`s your question, ma`am?

CALLER: I had a question if Jose is still around. A birdie told me that he also paid Amy Huizenga`s tab. So what was the purpose of Casey pleading guilty when Jose pays the tab?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go to Beth Karas, correspondent, "In Session," former prosecutor. What`s the whole Amy Huizenga angle here?

BETH KARAS, "IN SESSION": Well, Amy was a close friend of Casey Anthony`s. They had not been friends for all that long: a year or two before this incident happened in July of 2008, during the time that Caylee was missing.

Amy went on vacation and let Casey Anthony use her car, and her checkbook was in the car. And during that time Casey cashed four of the checks and emptied her girlfriend`s checking account, of over $600. So that`s -- and Amy Huizenga has been restored to whole, because Jose Baez admitted he has paid the bill.

But the point of a criminal prosecution isn`t just restitution, not just restoring the victim to whole. It is a wrong against society. And so she`s still going to be prosecuted, even if she made restitution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Larry Seidlin, we`re so delighted to have you on. You`ve been quite patient. You`ve sat there in the chair as a judge many times and watched people cry. Do you buy the crying that you saw from Casey Anthony today, or is this some kind of an act?

LARRY SEIDLIN, JUDGE: Well, the problem was Jose was forced to enter a plea today, will go to trial. My sources tell me that the court was not going to give any more continuances. There`s no way he would have voluntarily had her enter a plea of guilty to six felonies.

Now he`s behind the eight ball. If she takes the witness stand in the murder case in Florida, they`re going to ask her, "How many felonies are on your record?" Because these felonies go to her integrity, to the truthfulness. And it`s going to be so damning.

Here he had an innocent-looking woman who would have been sitting next to him, the defendant. She would have taken the witness stand. Now he`s going to have a hard time calling her for trial, calling her to go on the witness stand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, there`s a lot of people who say she would never take the stand anyway, because she`d be asked the very questions I asked Jose tonight. Why did she wait a month before her mother finds out and calls the cops? Why did she go dancing while her precious daughter was missing? Why did she get a tattoo that says, "the good life"? She wasn`t going to take the stand anyway.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First of all the fact that she pled guilty today certainly does not obviate the possibility that she very well may testify in the murder trial. With all due respect, I disagree with Larry Seidlin and Mark Eiglarsh. And this is why.

No. 1, pleading guilty to these charges is not an aggravator for the death penalty, has no affect on it.

No. 2, in a practical sense, if upon your lawyer`s advice, she chooses to testify during the murder trial, do you really think it`s a balancing act that she would be discredited and nobody will believe her testimony regarding the murder charges if she admits and will admit that, yes, she stole her friend`s checkbook and she wrote or forged bad checks during the time that she was distraught? I don`t think so. It will not affect her credibility, and that doesn`t mean she would be lying about the murder charges. Let`s be realistic. That`s No. 1.

No. 2 is, getting back to what Jose said, that she was being treated and discriminated against, I think what Jose meant to say was that, in all of his experience, he has never seen these charges bear a five-year plea offer from the state. Under Florida, we have ...



WEINTRAUB: Where that would give us a very little sentence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well done, my dear.


WEINTRAUB: And that`s why they wanted five years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, that was quite -- that was quite a speech. I liked it.

Everybody, stick around. We`re going to have much more on Casey Anthony. How is today`s trial going to affect her murder case?

Plus, is Misty Croslin keeping secrets from the cops? She`s locked up on drug charges right now, but does she know what happened to Haleigh Cummings? Will she talk, now that she`s behind bars?

And, Tiger Woods, we`ll tell you all about him next.



ROY KRONK, DISCOVERED CAYLEE ANTHONY`S BODY: I`m in the wooded area down by the school. I need you, like, now. I just found a human skull.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was meter reader Roy Kronk`s 911 call. He, of course, later discovered the body. That was the sound of him actually discovering the body.

Now, the judge today gave the defense the go-ahead to get testimony from Roy Kronk`s ex-wife on videotape. There`s definitely no love lost between those two exes.

Kronk, as we mentioned, found Caylee`s body in December 2008. His ex- wife reportedly has cancer and might not be able to make it to trial. But she claims Kronk was abusive and used duct tape to restrain her. Listen to her.


JILL KERLEY, ROY KRONK`S EX-WIFE: He duct taped my hands one time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you learned that Roy Kronk had found the remains of Caylee Anthony, what went through your mind?

KERLEY: That he had done it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Done it, meaning...?

KERLEY: That he probably was the one that had murdered Caylee Anthony or had something to do with it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Duct tape could be significant because Caylee`s skull was found wrapped in duct tape. We reached out to Roy Kronk`s attorney and got no response today. He has a standing invitation to come on this show and tell his side of the story.

However, Dr. Dale Archer, detectives have repeatedly said Roy Kronk is not a suspect, that he is a good Samaritan that had the smarts to look in the right place.

Do you think this whole tack of trying to blame Roy Kronk could backfire on the defense, because people might get angry that they`ve attacked this man that cops say is a good Samaritan?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, I do, and I think that this is classic defense strategy. They have to find someone else to have that reasonable doubt. You have to have someone else to say, "You know, he could have done it." So I think this is what they`re doing. I think this is very clear cut, and I think very well it could backfire on them.

Obviously, the police would have looked at him very, very carefully, couldn`t find anything. And just because you`ve had problems with your wives, doesn`t make you a child killer.


WEINTRAUB: How about the fact he was indicted for kidnapping?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle, New Mexico, your question or thought? That was thrown out.

CALLER: Yes, my question is, is you said it could be up to five years before the trial begins. Whatever happened to a quick and speedy trial?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Seidlin, you sit on the bench. What happened to a quick and speedy trial?

SEIDLIN: Well, the state attorney`s office, they wait till they have all their ducks in a row to file the charges, and then the defense attorney -- it`s like a big balloon. The defense attorney keeps trying to punch holes in the balloon until that balloon no longer is up in the air and hits the ground.

Time, in this particular case, is on the defendant`s side. She needs more time to -- to prepare for her case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, let me tell, I think it`s terrible when they string out these cases to the point where none of the witnesses will remember what happened, Beth Karas, because it happened so long ago, and that`s always to the advantage of the defense. Do you think the defense is trying to string this out?

KARAS: Well, you know, they are doing a very thorough job of filing a lot of motions and making sure that they get all of this discovery.

But I`ll tell you, the police have also done a thorough job. And all these interviews have been memorialized in reports, on audio tapes. A lot of folks have already given statements to the police that have been memorialized. So their recollections can be refreshed if, indeed, it does take a long time.

I seem to recall the hearing the day the body was found, that the defense had waived some of the time, so they`re not going to be contesting the speedy trial here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it there. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Haleigh Cummings` grandma wants the truth. She thinks her former daughter-in-law holds the key to little Haleigh`s disappearance.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Misty Croslin keeping toxic secrets? The grandmother of missing Haleigh Cummings is pointing the finger at Ron`s ex- wife. Is there something Misty`s not telling cops? And will her new drug arrest give cops the leverage they need?

Plus, what really happened the night Tiger Woods wrecked his SUV? Stunning new reports claim to have information from inside the house. Did Elin really send text messages to Rachel Uchitel posing as Tiger?

Tonight, a heart wrenching plea from the grandmother of little Haleigh Cummings: she was the last person to see little Haleigh alive and grandma wants Misty to fess up. Teresa Neves had this to say on NBC`s "Today Show".


TERESA NEVES, GRANDMOTHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: Whether or not she realizes it, Misty is holding something that could possibly help Haleigh`s case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Haleigh`s grandma talking about Misty Croslin who was home with Haleigh the night she disappeared. Misty says she was sleeping in the bed next to little Haleigh but claims she did not hear the girl`s alleged abduction.

Cops are not calling Misty a suspect in Haleigh`s disappearance but they had said she has not provided all the answers they are seeking about what happened that night. It doesn`t help when you fail a polygraph or two.


MISTY CROSLIN, HALEIGH CUMMING`S FORMER STEPMOTHER: I didn`t want to take the polygraph. I was supposed to do a hypnosis; that`s what I was supposed to do. One of the guys said that it could be -- the reason I`m failing is because I feel like it`s my fault because I was the last one seen with Haleigh.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now Misty`s in jail along with Haleigh`s dad, Ron on numerous drug charges. It`s no mystery cops will take this opportunity to again question the pair about little Haleigh. So what is Misty not telling us?

Joining me now, my fantastic panel: criminal defense attorney, Jayne Weintraub; Judge Larry Seidlin who presided over the Anna Nicole Smith body custody hearing; and Drew Petrimoulx, radio reporter for WDBO in Orlando. Drew, what is the very latest?

DREW PETRIMOULX, RADIO REPORTER, WDBO, ORLANDO: The latest is everyone is looking at Misty Croslin for answers here. You heard earlier in the show about the grandmother of Haleigh coming out and saying that while Misty -- she doesn`t suspect that she did anything criminal, she may unwillingly be keeping or she has some information that could lead to Haleigh`s -- to finding Haleigh also during this investigation.

It`s been a point that investigators want to hear more from Misty. They think that she may have more information that she`s withholding. She was the main focus of this drug investigation that netted five people and possibly could put Ron and Misty away for long prison sentences.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think she`s got six counts and she could go away for 74 years. Look at her. She looks like a child. That has got to be terrifying.

And I`m trying to figure out exactly how cops leverage that potential prison sentence, Judge Seidlin, in order to get her to say what she has so far refused to say. What really, really, really happened that night?

JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, PRESIDED OVER ANNA NICOLE SMITH CASE: This Ron, the father and Misty are two nut jobs. They`re fruit cups. He marries this babysitter when she`s 17 and the world is looking for his child. Then they get divorced, and these nuts should at this point in time be living a clean life, away from drugs and working. And they go out and they`re trafficking in drugs.

Now, the state attorney, the police and the prosecutor are going to have a heck of a case now. They`re going to be able to use these drug charges as a carrot to try to get one of them to cough up what really happened to this little girl. This is a golden opportunity for the police.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, but -- we have to say that they still not named them aspects or even persons of interest.

So here`s my big issue. Ron and Misty marry, then they divorce, as the judge just said. Then they get busted in a huge drug sting. What the heck is their deal, people? I mean, are they together or not?

His precious daughter disappears under Misty`s watch. He proceeds to marry her, to the shock of many. Then months later they get divorced, to the shock of many, now they`re allegedly in cahoots selling prescription drugs together. What is up with Ron and Misty?

I have to say, Jayne Weintraub, the most shocking thing that I`ve read about everything I`ve read today was that Misty`s mom says that they are still seeing each other. That they sleep overnight together, and that Misty just got a tattoo on her lower back that said "Ronald Cummings, Sr." and that Ron paid for that tattoo. Now, anybody who knows anything about tattoos knows that you don`t get somebody a tattoo, and you don`t tattoo somebody`s name on your hiney (ph), if there`s not more going on than meets the eye.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`ll acquiesce to your expertise in tattoos, Jane. But what I will say is that it`s obvious, she is a kid. You put it right on the money. She`s a child. She was a baby when this happened, she panicked. It`s obvious that she has information. But the problem is that the police are going to spin it the way they want, and probably not as truthfully as Misty would have.

This is not saying anything else...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne, Jayne, the problem is that she hasn`t said what really happened. The police believe she is withholding information.

Now, if the prospect of 74 years behind bars doesn`t snap you out into telling the truth, I don`t know what will. How do they leverage that? I`m trying to understand, whether they walk into a room -- do they walk into a room and say you could get 74 years. Tell us what happened and we`re going to go easy on you on these charges?

WEINTRAUB: Basically that`s exactly how it plays out, Jane. In essence, when they arrest her they will talk to her like that. If she invokes her rights, and asks for a lawyer they are supposed to stop questioning her. But they`ll always say things, if you want to make things right and if you ever want to see the light of day, I`ll do the right thing by you. I`ll let the judge know you cooperated. I`ll let the judge go easy on you, but they`re not willing to give her immunity.

They`re willing to say things like they`ll let this drug case go down to a lesser degree. But they`re not willing to give her immunity.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This isn`t the first time Ron Cummings has had some controversy. A past guest on ISSUES dug up another incident allegedly involving drugs. Listen to this.


ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: I obtained a police report, it`s called a suspicious incident report, and Hank Croslin, Misty`s dad, called the deputy to his house to say that Ron Cummings, his son-in-law, had given him painkillers, a mystery white pill he`d asked for. He took it and he wound up in a coma for four days.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to be one of the strangest group of families I`ve ever, ever encountered. Ron has consistently denied any wrong doing. He told a reporter that he thinks cops arrested him on drug charges last week just so they could question him about Haleigh. But undercover cops -- Drew Petrimoulx, give us the details -- they say this ring that included Misty, Ron and Misty`s brother did what?

PETRIMOULX: They basically had Misty being the ringleader of this, selling Oxycodone and hydrocodone which is a prescription painkiller to different places around that neighborhood. She was a suspect in making multiple deliveries.

Whether or not Ron was a party to all the deliveries is unclear at this time. But he was present for at least this final incident where we understand 330 pills were recovered.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now there`s another fascinating aspect to this. Misty`s brother has also been arrested in this alleged prescription drug ring. He is the guy who said, "I went to the trailer that night and knocked on the door, and nobody was there." And so he, in essence, contradicted Misty`s story that they were asleep, or either that she was so fast asleep that she didn`t hear him banging on the window.

Jayne Weintraub, are they going to put pressure on the brother?

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely. And that`s where they probably will put the most pressure and give the most lenient deal. Because he`s got the obviously the least culpability, if there is a murder case, and I`m not saying there is. But if there is, he`s got the most important information that can`t be contradicted and he`s got the inside of these people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have a couple of seconds. Judge Larry -- we only have a couple of seconds. Have you ever seen a case like this? This is the strangest case.

SEIDLIN: Well, it`s a tough case. They`re going to crack one of these nuts. One`s going to break, and they`re going to get one to break, and then we`re going to see the true story, what really happened to this little child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: From your mouth to God`s ear, I hope that happens. Thank you, judge; thank you fantastic panel.

Coming up, do we finally know what happened between Tiger and Elin Woods on the night of his infamous car crash? New reports paint a vivid picture -- We`re going to tell you all about it.

And the Heene family back in the news; a newly released video shows balloon boy`s mom admitting it was all a hoax.


RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF BALLOON BOY: A 3-D LAV, a low altitude vehicle for people, to pull out of their garage and hover above traffic from 50 to 100 feet. Anyway, this little guy got inside of it; I thought he did anyway, according to Brad.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fake text messages, mistresses, sleeping pills, brand-new reports on what may have happened the night Tiger had that accident.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Nancy Kerrigan once again struck by tragedy. Her father is dead, her brother has been arrested. Kerrigan`s father died of a heart attack after a physical argument with his son early Sunday morning. Police say Nancy`s brother Mark Kerrigan admitted to fighting with his father but has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Nancy Kerrigan was an Olympic figure skater who was attacked by her rival Tanya Harding during the `94 Olympics.

"Top of the Block", take two. Cue the circus music, Richard Heene back in the news; balloon boy mastermind continues to insist the whole thing was not a hoax, even as he is behind bars.

Well, Richard, maybe you should get your wife on the same page. She`s telling a totally different story. New video just released shows Mayumi admitting the whole balloon thing was a complete publicity stunt. Listen.


MAYUMI HEENE, MOTHER OF BALLOON BOY: Originally, we wanted to make it a Monday which was our anniversary. But we didn`t get it finished, and so that`s why we (INAUDIBLE) to Thursday. The kids had got out of school so we thought that was perfect.

INVESTIGATOR: Ok, because the kids were out of school, you thought that would be a good day to run this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, how sweet is that? The couple had planned to run this stunt on their anniversary. What a joke.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block".

And now to shocking claims about the dramatic events leading up to the Tiger Woods sex scandal explosion. Gerald Posner, chief investigative reporter at, says two sources who know Elin Woods gave him jaw-dropping details about a text message psych-out that triggered the couple`s Thanksgiving weekend marriage meltdown.

According to Posner, Tiger tried to do advanced damage control with Elin to warn her about the "National Enquirer" story about him having an affair with Rachel Uchitel. He reportedly put Elin on the phone with Rachel to convince Elin that the relationship was platonic.

Now, it seemed to work but then the next day- Thanksgiving, the Internet was buzzing with rumors about specifics from the "National Enquirer" article, "The Daily Beast" reports, Tiger and Elin then argued that evening and Tiger ended up the bickering by just taking a sleeping pill, Ambien.

That`s when Elin reportedly went into private eye mode. Listen to this from NBC`s "Today".


GERALD POSNER, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: And she decided to text Rachel Uchitel to test her, to see if in fact she really was Tiger`s lover or was just an innocent friend.

Rachel, when receiving those texts, evidently send texts back somewhat surprised that Tiger is awake, which immediately tells Elin that Tiger and Rachel had spoken earlier that night because Rachel knew that Tiger was going to sleep.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That`s just the tip of the iceberg. More from Mr. Posner about the aftermath of the text message trick and Tiger`s car crackup coming up. Wow. This has got a lot of car -- crackup coming up.

By the way, HLN has not independently confirmed "The Daily Beast" report. And we have not heard back from representatives for Tiger Woods or Elin. Rachel Uchitel`s attorney Gloria Allred also declined to comment.

Meantime, a second case is sneaking tonight, The web site X-17 Online claims the guy pictured in that "National Enquirer" article at the Gentle Path Rehab in Mississippi last week was not Tiger but a decoy. Decoy, perhaps, but that still doesn`t mean Tiger is not there. As a matter of fact, reports an Elin sighting at a local shoe store.

I am taking your calls on all of this. 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Paul Talbert, family law attorney; Nicole Narain, model, actress, a Playboy playmate and recovering sex addict; and Lindsay Powers, staff editor of ""Us Weekly" magazine.

Lindsay, explain this again. This is so complicated. What the heck happened in that house that night?

LINDSAY POWERS, STAFF EDITOR, US WEEKLY: Right, so we have this play by play detail of what happened. So Tiger got his wife Elin and Rachel Uchitel on the phone, at first convinced her that they weren`t having a fling, it was platonic.

But Elin then started reading the reports, going through Tiger`s phone, because apparently Tiger kept Rachel`s name under her real name. And she found a text that alluded to him being the only one that she loved and she -- you know, she called him, attacked Tiger the next -- you know, later that night. And we know what happened from there with the car crash.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So -- but the thing that I`m finding fascinating is she`s texting Rachel and Rachel`s responding, thinking that it`s Tiger. But it`s not Tiger, it`s Mrs. Tiger Woods, basically trying to call her bluff. That`s correct?

POWERS: That`s right. And you know, essentially -- so that Elin calls Rachel and Rachel has a pretty surprised response when she finds out that it`s actually Tiger`s wife on the phone and not him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God, this is like a made for TV movie.

Tonight`s big issue, when is it ok to snoop? Elin Woods reportedly looked at Tiger`s text messages after he reportedly went to sleep on Ambien.

Listen to reporter Gerald Posner on NBC.


POSNER: What this tells me, this entire episode that night, is that Tiger Woods did not know his own wife. He greatly underestimated her. He thought he was able to take a pill and go to sleep, leave his cell phone out with Rachel Uchitel`s number listed in the cell phone under her real name and that his wife would not check or try to do something about it. Boy, did he not understand who Elin was.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that`s the understatement of the year.

Meantime, for Elin`s part, her health was potentially at risk, there are children in the picture.

My question Nicole Narain, you`re a recovering sex addict, you`ve been through this whole process. Do you think the wife has a right to snoop this way?

NICOLE NARAIN, RECOVERING SEX ADDICT: Absolutely. I think -- and there are signs, there absolutely are signs, I think in a relationship when it starts off wonderful and great, everyone has their phones out, or you can even use your spouse`s phone. all of a sudden down the road now it`s they`re taking their phone maybe to the bathroom just to use the rest room, or you know, a suspicious behavior, when you break a pattern in a relationship that`s when you -- it`s time to start snooping or just for your own peace of mind.

Because otherwise, if you don`t, look what happens.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know...

NARAIN: ...this went under the radar for her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...somebody once said to me if a relationship is making you feel crazy...

NARAIN: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and the other person is saying no, no, no, it`s your imagination...

NARAIN: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...chances are your gut is right.

NARAIN: Right, exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Paul Talbert, you`re the family law attorney. What ever happened to her getting divorced? I mean we had heard she hired Sorrell Trope, the best divorce attorney, but he`s in California. We heard all these reports she`s probably going to move to California and file there.

PAUL TALBERT, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: I suspect the other shoe`s going to drop relatively soon. I think she`s giving him some space right now. He`s supposedly in a sex addict rehab clinic right now and she may just be laying low for a little bit and her lawyers may be working behind the scenes to negotiate for her the best deal possible.

I think just because we haven`t seen a divorce yet I certainly don`t think that means that these two are in the clear now. I mean, this is obviously a very volatile situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When we come back we`re going to also talk about the other reports that they`ve seen her in that neighborhood of the rehab clinic. More on the Tiger Woods sex scandal right after the break.



911 DISPATCHER: You working the one with Tiger Woods?


911 DISPATCHER: Is he ok?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he`s got minor injuries.

911 DISPATCHER: That`s good.


911 DISPATCHER: Was he doing something he shouldn`t have been doing to cause it?


911 DISPATCHER: That`s good. He`s a good golf player, I know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But not a good driver. He`s just a little banged up I guess, a little bit, that`s all.

911 DISPATCHER: Yes. Probably a little confused.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Two months ago almost to the day since the fateful car crash that would launch a thousand explosive headlines about Tiger Woods` alleged multiple adulterous affairs.

Phone lines lighting up. Diane, Georgia, your question or thought. Hello?

DIANE, GEORGIA (via telephone): Hello.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi there. What`s your question or thought, ma`am?

DIANE: Ok. My question and thought is about the children. It seems to me all that is concerned about is him and her. And the children, you know...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got you. I got you. We got to worry about the children, Diane.

Lindsay powers, what is going on with Elin? Now, there`s been reports that she was spotted at a shoe store in the neighborhood of the rehab center. Do we know anything about what`s going on with her inside the rehab center? Has she been there?

POWERS: We do know that she has been to Mississippi near the rehab center. And despite the reports of that not really being Tiger Woods there, there is a big fence erected outside.

Meanwhile her twin sister was watching Charlie and Sam, the children, back near their Florida home over the weekend. So, you know, what we`ve heard is that Elin is undergoing therapy with Tiger in Mississippi.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you about this. Reporter Gerald Posner says two anonymous sources told him about the Thanksgiving Day drama at the Woods` household. Here are more details in this clip from NBC.


POSNER: He locks himself in the bathroom for a few minutes. When he comes out Elin manages to grab his cell phone from him and he has actually sent a text message off to Rachel Uchitel saying in essence she knows, I`m packing, and a divorce could be imminent. At that point Elin absolutely loses it.

As I say, out of the Swedish girl comes the Viking. She starts pummeling him, as I understand it, with her fists both on his chest and his arms and then grabs the golf club. Tiger runs out of there in his bare feet into that car and she`s chasing him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nicole Narain, there`s an ironic downside to being rich. You have -- the walls have ears. There`s always somebody watching. Look at the detail there.

NARAIN: It is. He has a lot of patterns that definitely indicate being a sex addict. A sex addict`s core belief is that they`re just not good enough and their main, you know, sexual activity becomes their need for survival. You have to look at the momentous amount of women that he`s been with. I mean, it shows. And usually sex ends up making -- makes sex addict feel empty. That`s why they keep doing it over and over and over again which -- hence all of the women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I have to ask you this question very quickly. There are two photos here and X-17 Online says the one we all thought was Tiger isn`t Tiger, that there`s a decoy. Ten seconds. Lindsay powers, can you clear this up for us? It`s so confusing.

POWER: You know, it does seem to be him. "Us" has confirmed independently that he is, in fact, in Mississippi. And you know I think -- as I said, what`s most telling is that they sent out this decoy. The next day there`s suddenly really high fences around that clinic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that says it all. Thank you, fabulous panel.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.