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New Jersey couple indicted for killing Indian American Trupal Patel

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Trupal Patel
Trupal Patel

Joseph Villani, pictured, and his girlfriend have been indicted for the alleged murder of Trupal Patel.

FREEHOLD, N.J. (Diya TV) — A couple indicted by a grand jury on Monday charged with killing Indian American Trupal Patel and then dumped his body in a park.

Joseph Villani, 21, of Ocean Township, and his 20-year-old girlfriend Raquel Garajau, of Tinton Falls, were indicted on 13 counts in connection with the February killing of the 29-year-old Patel, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday night.

The prosecutor’s office in Ocean Township, as well as other law enforcement bodies, initially launched the investigation into Patel’s death, after his body was found by a park ranger who was collecting litter along Shark River Park shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 22. After authorities identified the deceased man’s body as Patel, they learned that a friend had reported him missing to the Asbury Park Police Department on Feb. 9, the same day that a car Patel was driving prior to his disappearance was discovered abandoned.

Villani became a suspect in Patel’s death after the mother of one of Villani’s friends called police to report her son may know something about the disappearance, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Decker said in court on March 9.

That friend told authorities he had helped Villani move what he later learned was Patel’s 2003 Jaguar on Feb. 7 after Villani told him he needed help relocating the car because the brakes needed to be repaired, Decker said. Villani had initially told investigators he was not in Patel’s car, but then changed his account and said he stole the car and a Movado watch that was in it, according to the Ocean Township Police Department’s affidavit of probable cause filed against Villani.

Villani was alleged to have been wearing Patel’s Movado watch while he was being interviewed by investigators. That’s when he, according to detectives, told them several times “I did it” but did not elaborate, Decker said.

However, a man described as Villani’s “best friend” told investigators that before Patel went missing, Villani had expressed an interest in robbing Patel, according to the affidavit. He asked about how much marijuana and money Patel had and what type of car he drove, according to the affidavit.

Garajau told detectives that Villani never revealed to her what he had done with Patel’s body. However, the prosecutor’s office said in a release Monday that additional work by detectives “revealed evidence that Garajau conspired with Villani to commit these crimes and aided him in destroying and concealing evidence in connection with the murder and robbery of Patel.”

Villani and Garajau were each indicted on charges of first-degree murder and felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with a witness, weapons offenses, and multiple counts of tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension, the prosecutor’s office said.

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FTX’s Nishad Singh got $543 million loan

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More fallout from the FTX cryptocurrency platform collapse. Court documents show its affiliate Alameda Research loaned executives like Sam Bankman Fried $1 billion and more than $500 million to Indian American Nishad Singh, FTX’s top engineer. FTX’s interim CEO says never in his career has he seen such complete failure of corporate controls and a complete absence of trustworthy financial information. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it was unable to come up with customer funds.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison after her conviction in January for defrauding investors while running the failed blood testing start up Theranos.In her trial, Holmes alleged she was in the midst of a decade-long abusive relationship with her then-boyfriend and Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The Indian American was also found guilty for his role in this fraud and will be sentenced later.

Starting next month, India will assume the G20 presidency for a year and chair more than 200 meetings, leading the way for global economic growth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country’s leadership here will be inclusive, ambitious, and decisive.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Arvind Venkat & Tarik Khan win Pennsylvania State seats

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) – Looking back at the midterm elections, Arvind Venkat and Tarik Khan made history as the first South Asian Americans elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Advocacy group Indian American Impact played a major role on the ground, saying it trained and mobilized 200 volunteers to go door-to-door, to engage voters and provide info they needed to elect new leadership.

After 35 years, the Nancy Pelosi era is officially coming to an end. The speaker from San Francisco announced she’s bowing out of leadership, but will retain her House seat. The midterms cost Pelosi’s Democratic party the House and effectively ended her speakership.

Two former Indian American executives at Meta Platforms will launch a new non fungible token start up for creators. Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have raised more than $8 million for their new company called Virtualness. But they are facing headwinds as the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse is putting pressure on the entire industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Meet FTX insider Nishad Singh

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The controversy around failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX continues to captivate the world. Part of the scrutiny is now on the people involved, including Indian American Nishad Singh. According to new reports, this techie was part of FTX’s inner circle, which lived together and ran the cryptocurrency empire from the Bahamas. The software engineer was also reportedly aware that FTX secretly transferred customer funds worth billions of dollars to its sister firm Alameda Research. Currently, no one is facing any criminal charges. Diya TV featured Singh more than a decade ago for running ultra marathons as a 17 year old getting ready for college. 

Former President Donald Trump has officially announced he is running for president in 2024, marking his third bid for the White House. Trump had been hinting at this announcement for months, as the embattled former president faces multiple criminal and civil litigations and as his party is grappling with a worse than expected showing in the midterm elections. 

At the G20 Summit in Bali, world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are coming together to condemn the rising threat of nuclear weapons as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to raise tension and anxiety around the world.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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