- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ARIZONA

Border agency’s aerial drone crashes

TUCSON — An unmanned aerial drone used to help Border Patrol agents find smugglers and illegal aliens crashed yesterday in southern Arizona, authorities said.

Operators lost contact with the $6.5 million Predator B about 3 a.m. A government helicopter found the crash site about three hours later, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel.

Officials didn’t know the extent of the damage to the drone. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

No one was injured and nothing on the ground was damaged.

While in use, the drone has helped in the apprehension of nearly 1,800 illegal aliens and the seizure of about 8,200 pounds of marijuana, Mr. Friel said.

Flying at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet, the drone uses cameras to find people crossing the border.

CONNECTICUT

Ex-governor’s aide,contractor jailed

NEW HAVEN — A contractor and a top aide to former Gov. John G. Rowland were sentenced yesterday to 2 years behind bars in the corruption scandal that sent Rowland to prison.

Peter Ellef, Rowland’s former co-chief of staff, and contractor William Tomasso pleaded guilty in October to federal charges they rigged a $57 million contract to build a state reform school.

They also received three years of probation and were fined $15,000 each.

Prosecutors said the reform school contract was just one example in a long pattern of graft. Tomasso plied Ellef and other officials with nearly $200,000 in cash, vacations, meals and other gifts, federal prosecutors said.

FLORIDA

Stun gun cited in woman’s death

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — A woman in a wheelchair who swung knives and a hammer at relatives and police died after being shocked by a stun gun, officials said.

Police tried to talk Emily Marie Delafield, 56, into dropping the weapons before they used the stun gun to subdue her Monday, Police Chief Robert Musco said. She lost consciousness after the electric jolt and later died at Orange Park Medical Center.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating, and an autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death.

The two officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure.

LOUISIANA

Inmate journalist wins parole

BATON ROUGE — A convicted killer who won awards as an inmate journalist was released from prison Monday and was on his way to Houston.

Billy Wayne Sinclair served 40 years of a 90-year sentence for killing a Baton Rouge convenience store clerk in a 1965 robbery. He won parole Friday on a 3-0 vote, said Margaretta Blades of the parole board.

“He plans to live in Texas,” Miss Blades said. “The parole is for him to move to that state.”

Sinclair gained fame for his work on the Angolite, the inmate publication at Louisiana State Penitentiary. He published the magazine with Wilbert Rideau, a fellow Angola inmate who was released last year. Their magazine won national prizes including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and the George Polk Award for special-interest reporting.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Human bones found on ranch

GOFFSTOWN — Investigators searching the ranch of a woman accused of killing a farmhand and burning his body say they found human bones in a burn pile on her property, blood in her house and a bloody knife, court documents show.

Sheila LaBarre, who was in court for a preliminary hearing yesterday, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kenneth Countie. He had moved from Massachusetts to her 115-acre ranch in Epping in February and disappeared a month later.

A court affidavit released yesterday said a Wal-Mart bag was found near the burn pile. When asked by officers on March 25 where Mr. Countie was, she said he was “in the bag.”

When asked whether she might have burned Mr. Countie, she said yes, but added that she didn’t hurt him.

NEW YORK

Developer allows government oversight

NEW YORK — The World Trade Center site developer said yesterday that he would agree, with conditions, to let the government oversee construction of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and a second skyscraper planned for ground zero.

Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease to millions of square feet of destroyed office space, said he would accept economic terms of the government’s latest offer, which would have him build and lease three other towers on the site by 2011.

But he asked for several conditions, including that the site’s owner immediately approve the deal. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has a board meeting today but had proposed waiting until September for final approval.

Mr. Silverstein said that any remaining issues could be resolved “within a matter of days.”

Mr. Silverstein, who signed a 99-year lease to the Twin Towers six weeks before they collapsed in 2001, said he would agree to pay an additional $1.75 billion in rent in exchange for promises to fill more than 1 million square feet of office space at ground zero with federal, state and city leases.

TENNESSEE

Ousted lawmaker, voters sue Senate

MEMPHIS — An ousted lawmaker and voters in her district sued the Tennessee Senate yesterday to try to get the Memphis Democrat reinstated to the General Assembly.

Ophelia Ford was ousted from the Senate last week after it nullified her 13-vote victory in a special fall election. The senators, led by Republicans, voted 26-6 after a committee found ballots cast by felons and people who didn’t live in the district. It also said two ballots were in the names of voters who died before the election.

Miss Ford and seven voters from the urban district claimed in a federal court lawsuit that the state Senate violated civil rights law because it disenfranchised voters in the majority black district without giving them a chance to challenge having their votes disqualified.

WASHINGTON

School closes for ‘sun day’

BELLINGHAM — Instead of enduring a day of inattention and spring fever, Bellingham Christian School declared a “sun day” and gave everyone the day off.

School administrators had told the students there would be no school on the first sunny day that hit at least 63 degrees. After Monday’s forecast called for a high of 65, school was closed. The mercury ended up hitting 68, the National Weather Service reported.

Students were told to return yesterday when the forecast called for rain.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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