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Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart is a reporter for Cox Media Group Ohio.

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Public shaming makes people pay their taxes, study says

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In 2010, Americans underpaid their taxes by at least $410 billion — an amount that, since then, has probably only risen.

It's more money than the personal fortune of Bill Gates times five, the market capitalization of ExxonMobil, or the GDP of South Africa. And, no surprise, the government really wants its money.

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan and Microsoft suggests that threatening fines — the usual way the government makes people pay up — isn't nearly as effective as publicly shaming them.

"But the fact that there are large numbers of people who don't pay shows those threats often don't work. And that's when the field experiment comes in." 

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Here's what they did: The researchers, with the cooperation of state agencies, sent letters to 34,000 tax delinquents. About half of the letters threatened fines, and the other half implied that their status as delinquents would be shared with their neighbors. 

The study found people who received the "shame" letter were about 20 percent more likely to pay off their tax debt than the other group — which translates into millions of extra dollars for local, state and federal governments.

The study's been picking up headlines, but it isn't a new idea: Private debt collectors have been shaming people for years, recently using social media to publicize unpaid debts. 

"Beachem says Mark One Financial went on her Facebook page not only emailing her but sending messages to friends and relatives as well," one WTSP reporter said.  

And although government agents probably won't be posting on your Facebook page any time soon, 29 states already maintain online lists of tax evaders and delinquents. 

California has a "top 500" list, currently paced by this guy, who owes the state north of $3.5 million but lives in Las Vegas. 

And here's the thing: According to the study, shame becomes a less effective motivator the more you owe. In other words, the less you owe the more likely you are to pay up.

Still, studies like this mean tax-shaming will probably continue to expand. So for those of you who don't owe millions of dollars, the lesson is pretty clear: You might just want to pay your taxes.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Man who took video of S.C. police shooting speaks out

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The bystander who took video of a South Carolina police officer shooting a black man in the back multiple times was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt Wednesday, revealing details of his decision to record the incident and how he handed the video over to the family. (Scroll down to watch the video.)

The day after the shooting, Feidin Santana said he approached the victim’s brother, who was standing in the spot where Walter Scott had been gunned down.

"I have something to share with you," Santana told Walter’s brother, Anthony, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Related stories: Feidin Santana, man who filmed Walter Scott shooting, praised as hero Why S.C. officer in Walter Scott shooting was indicted so quickly GoFundMe shuts down campaign for officer who killed Walter Scott White South Carolina officer charged with murder fired amid public outcry Celebrities react to fatal police shooting of Walter Scott 5 facts about Walter Scott, man killed in South Carolina police shooting Previous complaint against S.C. officer who shot Walter Scott Family of man shot to death by S.C. officer asks for prayers, calm Shocking video shows S.C. cop fatally shooting black man in back

Santana said he then showed Anthony Scott a Samsung cellphone and played the video that within days resulted in murder charges against North Charleston, S.C., officer Michael Slager.

The Scott family attorney said Santana was afraid to come forward at first, for fear of retribution.

Santana said he started recording after he heard the Taser gun.

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"I remember the police had control of the situation," Santana told NBC’s Lester Holt. "He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser."

"As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back," Santana said. "I knew right away, I had something on my hands."

The Scott family's lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, called Santana a "hero" at a news conference held by the family Tuesday night.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said  he had already ordered 101 body cameras to be worn by the city's police officers before the incident, and now he plans to order another 150.

Mother says faith helping her through shooting of son by SC police officer

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North Charleston police say the officer they charged with killing Walter Scott was investigated for using excessive force in 2013.

Officials initially cleared Officer Michael Slager in the case, but said they are now reviewing that decision.

Meanwhile, the man who took cellphone video of the deadly shooting says he feared for his life after taking the video.

WSB-TV investigative reporter Mark Winne traveled to Charleston and spent Thursday afternoon with the victim's family.

“Yes, I may cry, because that's my son, but as far as violence and hate and all of that is concerned, no, I have no hate. There's love, the love of Jesus. He's on the inside,” said Judy Scott, Walter’s mother. “God will see us through no matter what.”

Atlanta attorney L. Chris Stewart said the video of the shooting made him angry.

“It brought tears to my eyes. I just had to walk off and calm down,” Stewart said.   Stewart said the family refreshed his faith.

“I actually prayed this morning when I woke up, which I hadn't done in a while,” Stewart said.

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Stewart said an Atlanta relative of Walter Scott's family put them in touch with each other soon after Scott was fatally shot by North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager.

But before Stewart knew any video of the incident existed, he said, “It was something in my gut saying something just didn't sound right.”

Stewart said the courageous witness who shot the video had shown it to a family member but hadn't turned it over yet.

“He was scared for his life,” Stewart said.

The lawyer said he spoke with the witness, but in the end, it was the Scott family that gave him the courage follow through with his desire to do the right thing.

He said he, and South Carolina co-counsel Justin Bamberg, took possession of the video.

“We reap what we sow, yes we do. But I have forgiven him, yes I have. I have forgiven him,” said Judy Scott.

In a statement sent to Winne by attorney Andy Savage, he said that Slager had retained him as his counsel.

“We have initiated our investigation. I suspect it will take some time. As we focus in on the facts, we will probably have more to say, but it is far too early for us to be saying what we think," the statement said.

5 facts about Walter Scott, man killed in S.C. police shooting

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More details are emerging about Walter Scott, the unarmed black man who appears in a shocking video that seems to show a white police officer fatally shooting him in the back eight times.

Here's what we know so far about Scott, 50.

>> RELATED: Shocking video shows S.C. cop fatally shooting black man in back

1. The father of four was engaged. "He was the most outgoing out of all of us," Scott's brother, Anthony, said Tuesday. "He was well-known in the community."

Anthony, who said his brother was loving and well-liked, recalled spending time with Scott at a recent family oyster roast.

“We hadn’t hung out like that in such a long time,” Anthony told The New York Times. “He kept on saying over and over again how great it was.”

>> RELATED: Family of man shot to death by S.C. officer asks for prayers, calm

2. Scott may have fled police because he owed money for child support. A Charleston County sheriff's official said Scott was wanted on a Family Court warrant, reports. "He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail," Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Scott family, said Tuesday. In South Carolina, someone who owes child support can be jailed until the money is repaid, according to The Associated Press.

3. He was a former Coast Guard officer. The AP reports that Scott was with the Coast Guard two years before receiving an honorable discharge.

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4. He had been arrested about 10 times, but mostly for nonviolent offenses. According to the Post and Courier, Scott faced one violent charge in his lifetime: He was accused of assault and battery in 1987. The other charges stemmed from owed child support and contempt of court. "He doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record,” Stewart said.

5. He was fatally shot while fleeing a traffic stop. Scott was driving a Mercedes on Saturday when Officer Michael T. Slager, 33, reportedly stopped him for a broken taillight. Slager initially claimed he feared for his life because Scott took a stun gun during a scuffle, but video that emerged Tuesday appears to show otherwise. The viral clip seems to show Slager firing eight times at Scott's back as Scott lopes away across a grassy lot. Slager, who has faced previous complaints, has been charged with murder.


Click here to learn more about the case against Slager and past complaints against him.

>> RELATED: Previous complaint against S.C. officer who shot Walter Scott

>> RELATED: Celebrities react to fatal police shooting of Walter Scott

Ohio state senators want Rose back in baseball

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Some Ohio lawmakers believe a “living legend” needs to represent Cincinnati when the Major League Baseball All Star Game is played July 14 at Great American Ballpark. No one would better reflect the host city and state’s baseball history like hit king Peter Edward “Pete” Rose, says a resolution introduced in the Senate Monday.

Just one little 25-year problem with that: Charlie Hustle’s banned from baseball.

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That’s what Ohio state Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Avondale, who sponsored the resolution, hopes can be changed with the plea from the Ohio legislature to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to reinstate Rose.

The resolution asks the fourth commissioner since Rose accepted a lifetime ban, to remove the 17-time major league All-Star from the permanently ineligible list “as soon as possible.” The resolution also urges the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to include Rose on the Hall of Fame Ballot.

Then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti banned Rose from the game in 1989 for betting on ball games, including those he managed for the Reds. No evidence was found Rose ever bet against the Reds.

Rose, who turned 74 this month, played for the Reds from 1963-1978 and was a linchpin of the dominating, two-time World Series champion Big Red Machine of the ‘70s.

The concurrent resolution, which has no legal sway over Manfred’s decision, was cosponsored by Sens. Shannon Jones, R-Clearcreek Twp.; Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.; and Jim Hughes, R-Columbus.

A bill cleared the Senate last week also — also prompted by the MLB All Star Game coming to Cincinnati — that will allow some cities to create districts where open alcohol containers are permitted.

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