- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2006

GEORGIA

Navy jet crashes, kills four persons

ATLANTA — A U.S. Navy jet headed from Tennessee to Florida crashed in northern Georgia, killing all four persons on board, authorities said yesterday.

An investigation was under way after the wreckage of the Navy Sabreliner T-39 jet was found in Walker County in northwest Georgia late Wednesday after a daylong search, said an aide with the Georgia State Patrol.

Harry White, a spokesman at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., said the jet was making a round-trip flight from Pensacola to Chattanooga, Tenn., on a routine training mission. Mr. White said radar contact was lost shortly after the jet took off on the return to Florida.

RHODE ISLAND

‘Survivor’ winner goes on trial

PROVIDENCE — Reality show star Richard Hatch is merely the “world’s worst bookkeeper,” not the tax evader that prosecutors make him out to be, his attorney said yesterday as the “Survivor” winner’s tax fraud trial got under way.

Prosecutor Andrew Reich, in his opening statement, told jurors that the government would prove Mr. Hatch willfully failed to report his $1 million winnings from the hit CBS show to avoid paying more than $200,000 in taxes.

Attorney Michael Minns argued yesterday that Mr. Hatch was struggling with his newfound fame after winning the contest in 2000, overwhelmed by child abuse charges and relied on the advice of a self-employed accountant who was “in over her head.”

ARIZONA

Police chief paid to quit, keep quiet

WILLIAMS — The police chief was paid a year’s salary to resign and stop criticizing the City Council. The agreement between the city and Frank Manson, the former chief, was kept secret for nearly a year, until the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper sued to obtain documents.

Mr. Manson had accused two council members of violating Arizona conflict-of-interest laws in April. Weeks later, he was paid to leave.

CONNECTICUT

Victim’s mother says Skakel verdict upheld

NORWALK — The state’s highest court has upheld Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel’s murder conviction, the victim’s mother said.

Dorthy Moxley said she was notified of the decision by prosecutors.

Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment in 2002 of bludgeoning his neighbor Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in 1975 in wealthy Greenwich. He appealed his conviction to the Connecticut Supreme Court last year.

Mrs. Moxley, Martha’s mother, told the Associated Press yesterday that prosecutors told her the high court would announce today its rejection of the appeal.

“I hope this is the last we’ll hear of them,” she said.

A prosecutor declined to speak publicly about the case.

FLORIDA

Judge questions return of Cubans

MIAMI — A federal judge suggested yesterday that the U.S. government acted illogically this week when it sent back 15 Cubans who had landed on an abandoned bridge in the Florida Keys.

U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said he would not rule immediately on the emergency lawsuit filed on the Cubans’ behalf by an advocacy group that is seeking to bring them back to this country, but he questioned the government’s reasoning.

Under the government’s long-standing “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, Cubans who reach U.S. soil generally are allowed to stay, while those stopped at sea are returned to the communist island. In this case, the government said it sent the Cubans back to their homeland because the bridge no longer connects to land.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dexter Lee said the government would respond to the lawsuit by Jan. 26 and would ask the judge to dismiss the case.

LOUISIANA

Crashes in fog kill 1, shut interstate

CARENCRO — A series of crashes on a fog-shrouded interstate yesterday killed one person and shut down a major artery north of Lafayette during the morning rush hour.

“Even walking up to the accident scene, it was so bad you couldn’t see the vehicles until you were right there,” said Acadian Ambulance Vice President Clay Henry, whose employees responded to the crashes.

State police said one person died when a car caught fire after colliding with a tractor-trailer rig. Troopers spent the morning routing drivers off Interstate 49 and onto other roads between Lafayette and Opelousas.

When the interstate reopened after 11 a.m., wrecked vehicles littered the sides of the road and median.

MASSACHUSETTS

Jurors view video of Geoghan guards

WORCESTER — Jurors saw dramatic video yesterday of prison guards frantically trying to open the cell door of John Geoghan, then dragging out another inmate after he strangled the child-molesting former priest.

As the murder trial of Joseph Druce continued on its second day, the images — some in real time, others in time-lapse photography — conveyed the guards’ desperate attempts to open the door after they realized Druce was inside.

Several guards are seen pulling on the door, which Druce had jammed shut with a book. After the guards retrieved tools to open it, Druce is seen being dragged from the cell.

Druce confessed to killing Geoghan shortly after he was removed from the cell, telling guards he did it to protect other youngsters.

His attorney, John LaChance, is mounting an insanity defense.

MICHIGAN

Handshaker jailed after three fall ill

LANSING — A man has been jailed on assault charges after a prosecutor, police officer and courtroom bailiff became seriously ill after shaking hands with him.

During a Dec. 21 court appearance on a traffic charge, John Ridgeway pulled out a vial of an unknown liquid, rubbed his hands with the contents and insisted on shaking hands with the three persons, authorities said.

All of them got sick within an hour, suffering from nausea, headaches, numbness and tingling that lasted about a day. Two sought treatment at a hospital.

The FBI was running tests on the substance to identify it.

Mr. Ridgeway, 41, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from jail yesterday that the substance was olive oil. He questioned whether the three officials were sick at all.

“They’ve got a vendetta against me because I took a ticket to a jury trial,” he said.

MISSOURI

House explosion kills woman, son

MARYVILLE — A powerful explosion leveled a home near a university campus, killing a woman and one of her sons, and injuring another son.

Lois Hall, 93, and Carroll Hall, 69, died in the Wednesday night blast just off the Northwest Missouri State University campus, said Keith Wood, Maryville public safety director.

The other son, Donald Hall, 49, was found by neighbors as he was crawling his way out of the debris, Mr. Wood said. He was flown to a hospital in Kansas City, Kan., with serious injuries and had been in and out of consciousness, Mr. Wood said.

Officials yesterday were trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

Mr. Wood said the house had a natural gas furnace and water heater, and the survivor spoke of having smelled gas earlier in the day.

NEW JERSEY

State’s new slogan: ‘Come See for Yourself’

TRENTON — If you were pulling for “New Jersey: You Got a Problem With That?” as the new state slogan, forget about it, buddy. The winning entry in the slogan contest was: “New Jersey: Come See for Yourself.”

The new tag line is aimed at drawing more tourists to a state often associated with mobsters, traffic-choked highways and refinery odors that cause drivers to roll up windows.

The slogan was the top choice among 11,227 telephone and online votes cast by residents for five final entries.

The contest was started after acting Gov. Richard J. Codey rejected a marketing company’s proposal, “We’ll Win You Over.” He said it reminded him too much of when he was single and asked girls out on a date.

The winning slogan’s author, state transit agency worker Jeffrey Antman, won two tickets to a New Jersey Nets or Devils game and a two-night stay at a golf resort — in New Jersey, of course.

NEW YORK

Clinton Foundation negotiates AIDS drugs

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton announced yesterday that his foundation has negotiated agreements to lower the price of rapid HIV tests and AIDS-fighting drugs in the developing world.

Under the agreement, four companies will offer the tests for 49 cents to 65 cents each, cutting the cost of a diagnosis in half. Four more companies will provide the anti-retroviral drugs efavirenz and abacavir at a price about 30 percent less than the current market rate.

The products and prices will be available to the Clinton Foundation’s procurement consortium, which includes 50 developing countries on several continents.

PENNSYLVANIA

N.J. man indicted on foreign sex charge

PHILADELPHIA — A New Jersey man was indicted yesterday in federal court here on charges of conspiracy to engage in illicit sexual conduct in foreign countries, engaging in illicit conduct and enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Anthony M. Bianchi, 44, at his North Wildwood, N.J., home Wednesday. Also charged in the Republic of Moldova is Ion Gusin, 28, who is accused of serving as Mr. Bianchi’s translator. Moldovan police also arrested Mr. Gusin Wednesday.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said that from December 2003 through until Oct. 17, the two conspired to travel to Cuba, the Republic of Moldova and Romania to engage in illicit sexual conduct with boys younger than 16.

The indictment said Mr. Bianchi gave a boy a sweet wine to drink while on a visit to Romania and engaged in illicit sexual conduct after the teenager became intoxicated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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