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Bagged Salad Linked to Outbreak; Do-Nothing Congress?; Government Gone Wild?; "Real Housewives" Stars Indicted

Aired July 31, 2013 - 08:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Denzel Washington joining us to talk this hour but his new action flick and comedy with Mark Wahlberg "Two Guns". You do not want to miss that.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You do not. Just sit on it, just sit on it.

PEREIRA: Just having a moment. Denzel.

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's get to other top stories today.

We begin with the danger in your refrigerator. Health officials in two states say a prepackaged salad mix is the source of a stomach bug that sickened hundreds of people in many states. Similar outbreaks have been reported in more than a dozen other states.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is following the new developments.

It's really -- you have an answer but you don't have an answer, when it comes to this thing it seems.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You have enough of an answer probably to keep people safe. But people certainly probably want more information. This has been going on for some time since mid-June. And still, as you know, hundreds of people waking up this morning reporting these food poisoning-like symptoms. We now know the culprit may have been in the refrigerator.


GUPTA (voice-over): Pre-packaged salad, that's the answer to the mystery of what was causing the most recent food poisoning outbreak that has spread across the country. Nearly 400 people in 15 states have reported food poisoning symptoms caused by this microscopic parasite, Cyclospora.

Health officials in two states tracing the source to bagged salad.

STEVEN MANDERNACH, IOWA DEPARTMENT OF INSPECTION AND APPEALS: We saw that there was a common exposure to bagged lettuce, bagged salad products.

GUPTA: While a specific brand has not yet been named, health officials in Iowa and Nebraska blamed mixed salad bags of iceberg and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots and red cabbage. But they also add that the salad mix is no longer on the shelves in their states.

Now, this isn't the first time bagged salad has come under the microscope.

Earlier this month, Collissa Williams say her sister-in-law was pouring out a bag of kale when she was shocked to discover a frog.

COLLISSA WILLIAMS, FOUND FROG IN KALE: She poured in kale and she went to stir them and she's like there's a frog in there. And we're all like, a frog?

GUPTA: This past February, an E. coli scare triggered a nationwide recall on Taylor Farm's baby spinach. This most recent outbreak is sending at least 21 people in three states to the hospital.


GUPTA: Now, they're a lot closer to an answer here, but the CDC and FDA continue to look at this outbreak and other possible causes because they're still not sure if all the cases are linked to the same outbreak. They said about 80 percent of them. They still got a little more work to do.

BOLDUAN: And the difficulty in finding the link is this is perishable food, people eat it, people throw it out, and it seems to be kind of out of the system before they found where it came from.

GUPTA: Yes. And you're asking people to remember what they had last week, two weeks ago. I mean, you probably can't remember what you had for lunch two Tuesdays ago, and that's part of what makes these investigations hard.

BOLDUAN: So, with all that in mind, what is the best advice with how to protect yourself?

GUPTA: I think with regard for this food outbreak, as you mentioned, I think the bag lettuce in question is probably out of the food chain. So, it's a little bit of a sigh of relief. It comes prewashed. A lot of people say, look, that saves you some work and a lot of times it does, but still wash it, hold it underneath the faucet as opposed to leaving it your sink, because you can cross contaminate in your sink as well, which is why they started pre-washing in the first place. You have to think about it at both sides. Dry it, as well, because the residue can stick to the lettuce, stick to the vegetables whatever you're trying to --

BOLDUAN: You said that before about other things and that is one thing I did not know. The drying because you rub off some of the parasite, if you will, or whatever it is. That's an interesting point.

GUPTA: Yes, trying to keep people safe.

BOLDUAN: See, I do learn something from you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: There you go. BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Sanjay.

Sanjay will be back later this hour on a new report on how often patients get sick in the hospital. Something that he's looked up over the years. You want it see this.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And speaking of things that make you sick -- Congress. Thinks it makes no sense to give paid vacations to employees who can't get anything done? You're paying as the lawmakers in Washington get ready to leave after doing not enough for you.

President Obama is making a rare trip to Capitol Hill today, to meet with lawmakers ahead of the August recess. So, little question on timing, though. But as they prepare to leave town, wait until you hear how little they have gotten done. Can't say it enough.

Dana Bash is live for us on Capitol Hill.

I know it's nothing new, Dana, but this time it seems to sting a little more than usual.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, I think it happens over and over, you start to say, huh? Well, you know, what's interesting is that the president is coming here to Capitol Hill, but he's only meeting with fellow Democrats in the House and the Senate. That means that it is going to be more of a pre-August recess prep rally than last-minute legislating.

Congress doesn't have the best approval rating and this certainly isn't going to help.


BASH (voice-over): Let's start with the positive, a recent burst of bipartisanship, a deal to make sure many student loan rates don't double, a rare meeting of all senators that led to confirmation of several Obama nominees.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The Senate certainly has functioned better over the last six weeks than it has for sometime.

BASH: Perhaps, but elementary school civics taught us a bill can't be law without the Senate and House agreeing, and both leave Friday through September, with a lot left undone.

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: The dysfunctionality is real. I don't know who the 9 percent are that think that we're working well.

BASH: Still unfinished, the farm bill, governing from farming to food stamps. Immigration reform, it passed the Senate, but the House is developing its own plans, likely with no path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

And again, Congress is way behind on its basic function, funding the government, which runs out of money September 30th or the government shuts down. Conservatives like Ted Cruz say that may be necessary if they can't cut money for Obamacare.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Under no circumstances will I support a continuing resolution that funds even one penny of Obamacare.

BASH: Some Republicans oppose that tactic.

CORKER: Yes, I just think that's a very self-defeating effort.

BASH: Bob Corker will spend August continuing bipartisan talks with the White House on a spending plan.

CORKER: During August recess, most of us work harder than we do here.

BASH: Also looming, the debt ceiling. The U.S. risks defaulting on loans as soon as Labor Day.

TESTER: We could put the economy back into a tailspin and it's absolutely not the thing we want to do in Washington, D.C.


BASH: And even though lawmakers, obviously, are elected to be here on Capitol Hill to legislate, plenty of them say they really do a better service to their constituents these days than being back home with them. And speaking of being back home, a lot of times during August recess you have moments that affect fall legislation.

Kate, you remember what happened a few years ago those angry town halls regarding health care, lawmakers are bracing for immigration to be a hot topic, which really could seal its fate in the fall.

BOLDUAN: We'll likely hear from their constituents loud and clear.

Dana, great to see you. Thanks so much.

BASH: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Let's stay on Capitol Hill for a second. Trouble at the airport. Today, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing looking into allegations by misconduct by airport security personnel. The Government Accountability Office look at all these things reports that misconduct cases among TSA workers rose 26 percent over just the last three years.

CNN's Rene Marsh is live in Washington taking a look at this report and what it means.

Good morning, Rene.


You know that hearing is set to get under way in just about two hours from now. But we all know in any organization with some 56,000 employees, you may expect some rotten eggs in the bunch and the TSA is no different. Some of the misconduct is commonplace, excessive absence or tardiness, but some is down right troubling and could have a major impact on security.


MARSH (voice-over): The list includes everything from forgery, sexual misconduct to physical fighting and using abusive language.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: There's not even a way to properly report some of the offenses. So this may just be the tip of the iceberg of some of the offenses.

MARSH: It's the agency some flyers love to hate, posting their pat downs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested.

MARSH: But now, criticism for the government not for pat down procedures, but for incidents like this, TSA Screener Supervisor Michael Arano admitted accepting bribes and kickbacks from a co-worker who stole money from passengers at checkpoints at New Jersey's Newark Airport, and at New York's JFK, TSA employee, Persad Kumar, pleaded guilty to stealing $40,000 from a checked bag.

The report also notes in a three-year span more than 9,000 cases of TSA misconduct were documented. Fifty six screeners were involved in thefts and more than 1,900 incidents that could hurt security like sleeping on the job and allowing family and friends to bypass security.

The union representing screeners says the numbers suggest the majority of screeners are doing a great job.

DAVID A. BORER, GENERAL COUNSEL, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO: If you look at the population of a small city, 56,000 people, in the workforce and the numbers on an annual basis are really very, very small.

MARSH: Congressman John Mica, a long-time critic of the TSA, calls for the audit.

MICA: Why are there so many cases and what is TSA doing about it? The report says they really can't get a handle on it. That raises a lot of issues.


MARSH: Well, the government wants TSA to make improvements on how they monitor allegations of misconduct and how they follow up after investigating.

Now, we reached out to the TSA and they tell us they're already working to implement the recommendations -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Rene, thank you for that. Moving on now, a Michigan mother has been sentenced for trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband. You know who has that story -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: I do have that story. It's actually really interesting update, Chris.

Julia Merfeld didn't know that the hitman she happened to be talking to was an undercover cop, the camera happened to be rolling incredibly before she was sentenced, though. This is the twist: her husband forgave her and even asked the judge to show her mercy.


JACOB MERFELD, HUSBAND: I wholeheartedly forgive my wife for all she has done in this act of hatred.

PEREIRA: The act of hatred planning his murder. Twenty-one-year-old Julia Merfeld was caught on camera twice in April trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband, 27-year-old Jacob Merfeld.


COP: I'm just going to take him head on. I'm going to shoot him right in the face.


PEREIRA: Why did she want him shot in the face? She told an undercover Michigan state police detective she'd rather kill her husband than break his heart by leaving him.

JULIA MERFELD: As terrible as it sounds, it was easier than divorcing him. I didn't have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn't have to worry about breaking his heart.

PEREIRA: But authorities say she was motivated by money, planning to cash in on her husband's $400,000 insurance policy, $50,000 of which would go to the hitman.

Now, she traded her superhero sweatshirt for jailhouse blues, pleading guilty to solicitation of murder. Just before her sentencing Tuesday, Merfeld begged the judge for leniency saying she's already been punished.

JULIA MERFELD: Honestly, it could have been worse. The crime that I attempted could have been carried out and that alone, honestly, is the worst punishment should ever have to endure and I will endure it for the rest of my life every single day.

PEREIRA: A far cry from the woman seen laughing she told an undercover cop she wanted her husband killed in the front yard.

COP: You don't want it in the house then?

JULIA MERFELD: It would be messy in the house. PEREIRA: And her husband, not only does Jacob Merfeld forgive his wife, he told the court he didn't want her to serve any prison time.

JACOB MERFELD: For this, she's been a wonderful person, a wonderful wife. I'm sure, as you know, we have two young children. I ask for a lighter sentence, if you could, please, sir.


PEREIRA: That is what you call a very forgiving man. The judge sentenced Merfeld to at least six years in prison, but she could serve as long as 20 years behind bars. Really a different woman in the courtroom there than you saw on video.

BOLDUAN: Obviously, she got caught.

CUOMO: That's right. Disposition changes when you're looking at the judge. You got to remember, if this plan had gone the way she wanted to, her husband would be dead.

PEREIRA: Those children would be without a father.

BOLDUAN: Still, but, man, you can believe, I can't understand what was going through that husband's mind in the courtroom.

CUOMO: We'll have to follow that to see what sentence there is. One of many stories we're following for today.

For more news, let's go back to the source, shall we?

PEREIRA: Let's look at headlines at this hour. Making news:

NSA leaker Edward Snowden's father says the FBI tried to have him fly to Moscow to convince his son to return to the U.S., but he told "Washington Post" the plan broke down when agents could not or would not guarantee the two would be able to speak. When asked how he would describe his son, Lon Snowden said, patriotic, that he comes from a family that involves federal agents and police officers.

New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner says he's here to stay, despite for calls for him to get out of the mayoral race. He has been taking a beating since he admitted continuing sexting with woman after similar scandal forced him to resign from Congress.

Now, he released this defiant new video.


ANTHONY WEINER (D), NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I know there are newspaper editors and other politicians that say, boy, I wish that guy Weiner would quit. You don't know New York. Certainly, you don't know me. Quit isn't the way we roll in New York City.


PEREIRA: Meanwhile a top aide apologizing for using very foul language to describe a former intern who wrote an article about the campaign.

Baseball action, a must-see play. A rookie, a rookie with the Houston Astros making quite a statement last night. Astros/Orioles in Baltimore. With the bases loaded, Jonathan Villar breaks from third and steals home. Just saying.

Rookie, Villar was promoted from the minors just over a week ago. Apparently, he's had like five steals in eight games. He's doing amazing things and looks like he wants to stay with the big club.

A follow-up story to tell you about. Remember we told you yesterday. The young brothers seen on surveillance video fighting off a robber at the family restaurant in Norfolk Virginia. Caleb and Zane Waldemar told us it's not the first robbery, in fact, it's Caleb's third. We asked him what exactly happened when the robber came in the back door.


CALEB WALDEMAR, FOUGHT OFF ROBBER AT FAMILY RESTAURANT: Basically, the robber kept telling us that he had a gun and that he had friends out behind the store that were going to be joining him and he saw the money right away on the counter, in the register.

ZANE WALDEMAR, FOUGHT OFF ROBBER AT FAMILY RESTAURANT: When Caleb got in the way, and then I came up and squeaked in between them and when he started to try to get into the office, I grab the office door and try to slam it on him and when that didn't work, I just threw the door back and grabbed him. And then we started wrestling all over in the office. We've done marshal arts and we started wrestling when we were, you know, 5 and 6. So, we basically pushed him out of the back door.

They don't really know who it is yet. I don't believe they have any leads to go off of right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first robbery experience that I had was a year and a half ago he decided not to shoot me and took half the money and left. And from that point on, I decided that I would never lose another fight again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The feeling of, you know, the adrenaline and testosterone of beating this robber was, I mean, amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, just really exciting that we actually beat him and didn't get hurt or anything and he didn't take any money.


PEREIRA: Excitement explains. The chest bump. Zain (ph) and Caleb say their internet fame really hasn't changed that much in their lives for now. But obviously, a cautionary tale. You don't want to be doing that. You don't know if these people do have guns or not.

CUOMO: Never the best indicators of good judgment.

PEREIRA: Bad mix at times. CUOMO: But thank God they got through it, and hopefully, they find who that is. The man is still at large.



BOLDUAN: Straight to Indra Petersons with the latest forecast in the weather center this morning. Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Good morning. We really cannot catch a break. We just had Flossie, and now, we have Gil already. I mean, literally not a break in between and notice actually this is where we're looking at Gil, but behind it, a 60 percent chance that even another storm could form. So, lots to be looking at, especially when I kind of put the path here of Gil right over Flossie.

I wanted to see what the projected path and the comparison. And notice, it's literally almost identical. So, definitely a concern here for Hawaii, especially when you talk about the next 48 hours. It is expected to develop into a hurricane. So, actually, stronger earlier on. So, that's something we're going to be monitoring.

Also we're looking at is more rain in the southeast today. Again, we've seen so much rain this June and July. Anywhere from seven to nine inches above average in the area. And it looks like again today will not be an exception. More of that blow coming out in the southeast means of heavier rain into the region and also looking at that cold front quickly making its way anywhere from the Midwest all the way to the northeast.

And, as it does so, we'll be looking at rain pretty much right by that front. Well, far as the amount (ph), about a half an inch sort of inch, so definitely not a huge rainmaker, but nonetheless, it does mean all that beautiful weather and all the drying out we received is now gone. Good side of it, cold front means cooler temperatures, and people are loving that cool temperatures.

BOLDUAN: Beautiful day. Have a good day, everybody. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Good stuff.

Coming up on NEW DAY after the break, you want to see a jail break in progress? Good. Here's one. Here's the bad guy, Derrick Estell (ph). That's the cop chasing him. We're going to show you a picture because the cops in Hot Springs, Arkansas have issued a BOLO, be on the lookout, for this man. We're going to tell you how he got out and then you can help bring him back.

BOLDUAN: And a real housewife visits a real courthouse in New Jersey. She and her husband, Joe, are now facing federal fraud charges. Details in a moment.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Everybody must pay attention, especially if you live in Hot Springs, Arkansas, because there's a manhunt under way for a very bad guy and a very fast runner. Derrick Estell (ph) is now on the loose and considered armed and dangerous. He pulled off this daring jail break that you're watching right now, leaping out a window and then running away from that guard. John Berman is here on more with this great escape.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really amazing to look at. I mean, this guy can tunnel out at night. He ran away in broad daylight with officers just feet away. It was clearly a carefully orchestrated plot to escape. And what's worse here, this inmate on the run, he has a history of violence and a history of making things very, very tough for law enforcement.


BERMAN (voice-over): It was this daring stunt that set off a statewide manhunt. An Arkansas inmate slipping head first through a narrow opening of the booking window at the Garland County Detention Center. Derrick Estell (ph) appears to be talking on the phone, but that was just phase one of his plan. As soon as deputies weren't looking, he makes a break for it, dashing right out the front door with a guard in hot pursuit.

Now on the run, Estell is considered armed and dangerous. His blanket rap sheet includes a total of 26 charges including aggravated robbery, breaking and entering, burglary and, you guessed it, fleeing. In March, police say he allegedly stole a car and led them on a wild chase that ended in a standoff.

DEPUTY SCOTT HINOJOSA, GARLAND CO SHERIFF DEPT.: He went to a wooded area. We set up a perimeter, and several hours later, we took him into custody.

BERMAN: This time, authorities believe Estell acted with two accomplices. Police say this man, William Harding, who was visiting the jail distracted guards by asking questions just long enough for Estell to make his move. And this woman, Tamara Upshaw (ph) was believed to be driving the getaway car waiting outside.


BERMAN (on-camera): So, the man who visited the jail and distracted the guards, he is in custody and police are now looking for the woman suspected of driving the getaway car which was found just abandoned t a few minutes later by police in Hot Springs.

BOLDUAN: Just crazy. Crazy, crazy.

CUOMO: I'm putting up that picture so people can look at the man's face and help authorities find him.

BOLDUAN: OK. All right. Another story we've been watching. A real- life courtroom drama for "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star, Teresa Giudice and her husband, Joe. You know these faces. They've been hauled into court, though, indicted on federal tax fraud charges and one of them could be facing deportation, as well. Nischelle Turner is here with the latest on this. You were out there in New Jersey covering the case.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was, Kate. And once they got inside the courtroom, they were very quiet. The only time they spoke was when the judge asked if they understood the charges against them. Getting into the courtroom, on the other hand, that was anything but calm.


TURNER (voice-over): It was a court arrival you might expect from real housewife stars, Joe and Teresa Guidice, swarmed of media, shoving, and emotions running high as Joe's mother took a swipe at a photographer's camera. Inside, prosecutors read the very serious charges against the couple, a 39-count federal indictment that includes bank fraud, failure to file income taxes, and bankruptcy fraud. Neither Joe nor Teresa entered a plea, but both had to surrender their passports.

It was also revealed that Joe Guidice is not a U.S. but an Italian citizen. And prosecutors say they may pursue immigration charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the event of his conviction, he's facing possible deportation in Italy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teresa, are you standing by your husband?

TURNER: The Guidices who are free after posting bond appeared united after the proceedings, holding hands and even kissing. Joe's attorney says both his client and Bravo were aware of the investigation while shooting the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" and is concerned that the show's popularity could impact the trial.

MILES FEINSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR JOE GUIDICE: Here you have the show and the fame of the individuals, which can affect the jury pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you worry about the show and footage from the show being used against them and their lavish lifestyle?

FEINSTEIN: I worry about everything. We try to prevent any prejudice from seeping in.

TURNER: Legal experts say attorneys for the Giudices have an uphill battle on their hands.

MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: These are the kind of allegations that are very easy to prove. They could be looking at 55 years in jail. The fines alone quarter of a million dollars for some of them, half a million dollars.


TURNER (on-camera): Now, yesterday was just their initial court appearance. They won't formally enter a plea until their arraignment on August 14th. Just to note, neither Teresa's brother, Joe, who also appears on the show, or his wife, Melissa, were in court. Neither were Teresa's parents, only Joe's mother and father came yesterday. BOLDUAN: We'll talk more about it.

TURNER: Absolutely. This isn't going away anytime soon.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Nischelle.

CUOMO: Potentially bad situation on many levels. You know what that means, it means good stuff. Right now, in today's edition, 11-year- old gauge -- Gage Gearhead (ph) loves motorcycles. He also had cancer for most of his life. Between rounds of surgeries and chemo, he asked his family, they asked him, what do you want for your birthday? He said maybe a ride on a bike. Gage didn't get just one motorcycle, nothing small like that. Guess what he got? Eighty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gage is a little boy that just turned 11. He's fighting cancer. Go for another round to fight and we all know cancer sucks and we pull together. When you ask for bikers, did you think you'd get this many? This is yours.

Every single one of these bikers have a heart of gold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to set you down inside.

We've got a side car right there. We're going to load him up so that he's safe and we're going to take him into town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Brought a tear to my eye. It's amazing see how well this community pulled together to help kids like this out. I love Gage with all my heart. I just want to say thank you all. God bless. You guys have made all the difference in the world to Gage and me and our family.


CUOMO: And there's more. The bikers didn't just bring himself in their hogs (ph). They brought thousands of dollars in donations and plenty of gifts making it a special birthday for a special kid.

BOLDUAN: Hard on the outside and soft on the inside.


PEREIRA: Motorcycle clubs --

CUOMO: Communities come together and they do the right thing and that's why we tell their stories.

PEREIRA: The good, good stuff.

BOLDUAN: that was fantastic.

PEREIRA: Thank you. BOLDUAN: A day Gage will always remember. That's for sure.

All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, getting sick at the hospital. Even if your operation is a complete success, that doesn't mean that you're out of the woods yet, at least. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a new report about post-surgical complications and he's going to be talking to us about that.

CUOMO: And, to the good stuff to a good guy. Denzel is here. Do we really have to say anything else? Brush your teeth, have some coffee, have a little grapefruit, and come back.