- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2005

CALIFORNIA

‘Wendy’s fingertip’ settled $50 debt

SAN JOSE — A man who lost part of his finger in a workplace accident was the source of the fingertip used in a suspected scam against Wendy’s restaurants, and gave it away to settle a debt, his mother said.

“My son is the victim in this,” Brenda Shouey said in an interview published in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. “I believe he got caught in something, and he didn’t understand what was going on.”

Anna Ayala, 39, was arrested April 21 at her Las Vegas home on suspicion of attempted grand theft for reportedly costing Wendy’s millions of dollars in a plot to shake down the company by claiming she found the finger in a bowl of chili in a restaurant in San Jose.

Mrs. Shouey, of Worthington, Pa., said her son, Brian Paul Rossiter, 36, of Las Vegas, lost part of his finger in December in an accident at a paving company where he worked with James Plascencia, the arrested woman’s husband. His hand got caught in a mechanical truck lift, she said.

She said he gave it to Mr. Plascencia to settle a $50 debt.

GEORGIA

Atlanta United Way withholds Scout cash

ATLANTA — Directors of Atlanta’s United Way voted yesterday to withhold money for area Boy Scouts until an investigation is complete into whether the group inflated black membership numbers.

The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s board of directors unanimously approved a plan that would give Boy Scouts of America-Atlanta Area Council about $1.5 million for 2005. But the allocation, the same as the group received for the year ending July 1, will be withheld until the board sees an audit being conducted by the Scouts.

Joe Beasley, regional director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, said in October that the 13-county Boy Scouts council was reporting 10,000 black participants when as few as 500 were actively involved.

Those numbers are used to help determine United Way funding.

MASSACHUSETTS

Test overlooks cancers in women

BOSTON — A common screening tool for colon cancer, sigmoidoscopy, misses precancerous tumors in almost two-thirds of women — a disturbing failure rate twice as high as in men, a government-backed study found.

“All our data until now has been based on men. What this data shows is it’s a lot worse in women,” said Dr. Philip Schoenfeld of the University of Michigan and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The researchers said colonoscopy — a more reliable but more expensive test than sigmoidoscopy — should now be considered the preferred method for most women.

Dr. Schoenfeld led the study of 1,463 women, ages 50 to 79, at four military hospitals. It was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine and funded by the National Cancer Institute.

MISSOURI

State executes twice-convicted killer

BONNE TERRE — A twice-convicted murderer who strangled a 9-year-old girl in St. Louis in 1986 was executed early yesterday after a split vote by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vernon Brown, 51, was pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center, nearly 2 hours after his execution was scheduled.

The execution was delayed when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a temporary stay shortly after midnight. But on a 5-4 vote, the court later lifted that stay and denied another stay.

RHODE ISLAND

Judge denies mayor’s bid to resume show

PROVIDENCE — A federal judge refused to allow a mayor to resume hosting his radio talk show, which ended after the state Board of Elections said the free airtime violated laws on campaign contributions.

Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, a Republican, hosted a Friday morning call-in program for about two months before the elections board ordered him to stop in April.

Democrats contended “The Steve Laffey Show” was akin to free advertising for a potential political campaign. Mr. Laffey, 43, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for Senate or lieutenant governor. He is not paid for the show.

Mr. Laffey was seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow him to return to his show. He said he was “befuddled” by Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi. His lawyers were considering an appeal.

TEXAS

Border Patrol agents seize marijuana

SARITA — U.S. Border Patrol agents seized marijuana valued at more than $20 million along the Southwest U.S.-Mexico border over a five-day period this week, including a $6 million seizure at a Border Patrol checkpoint here.

Border Patrol spokesman Mario Villarreal said agents took a 25-year-old U.S. citizen in custody and seized 7,309 pounds of marijuana after a Border Patrol dog alerted to a tractor-trailer that had stopped at the station. The dog, he said, found the marijuana concealed in a cargo compartment behind crates of pineapples.

Agents in the Hebbronville, Texas, station seized 2,218 pounds of marijuana valued at $1.8 million and arrested a 28-year-old U.S. citizen after a Border Patrol dog there alerted to 158 bundles of marijuana concealed inside the truck’s fuel tanks.

Mr. Villarreal said Border Patrol agents working a checkpoint near Amado, Ariz., seized 4,788 pounds of marijuana in a tractor-trailer after a canine alerted to the trailer. He said agents discovered 220 bundles of marijuana hidden among pallets of watermelons. The estimated value of the marijuana was set at $3.8 million. Other seizures pushed the total value to more than $20 million.

UTAH

Study links obesity to knee tears

SALT LAKE CITY — As Americans continue to get bigger, you can add knee problems to the list of ailments they are likely to face after lugging around extra pounds.

Being overweight probably leads to more than half of the nation’s 850,000 annual operations to repair cartilage tears in the knee, researchers at the University of Utah concluded.

The study, published in the May edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and led by Dr. Kurt Hegmann, focuses on the connection between weight and torn cartilage but doesn’t address the exact cause.

Dr. Hegmann, director of the University of Utah’s Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational Environmental Health, and his team studied 544 surgical cases involving cartilage tears repaired from 1996 to 2000. The patients were men and women ages 50-79 who had surgery on the meniscus, the shock-absorbing cartilage in the knee.

WASHINGTON

Christian vanity plate gets state OK

OLYMPIA — Vanity may be a sin, but a Christian message on vanity license plates is OK with the state of Washington.

The Department of Licensing on Tuesday dismissed a complaint against a vanity plate imprinted with “JOHN316.”

“The plate is not offensive under our rules and was never in danger of being canceled,” Licensing Department Director Liz Luce said.

The plate refers to the verse in the New Testament that says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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