- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2007


Judges fight over scheduling

MARSHALL — A scheduling conflict put two judges in the same courtroom, triggering a shouting match between them and causing a state trooper to intervene.

Witnesses said Judges Jerry Patterson and Rhonda K. Wood threatened to hold each other in contempt, but eventually agreed to take turns hearing small-claims matters and criminal cases. Neither had a full docket.


Glitch strands international flights

LOS ANGELES — Weary international passengers were stuck at Los Angeles International Airport for several hours, unable to set foot in the United States after a computer failure prevented customs officials from screening arrivals.

More than 20,000 international passengers, both Americans and foreigners, sat in four airport terminals and in 60 planes starting at about 2 p.m. Saturday, when the computer system broke down, said Los Angeles World Airports spokesman Paul Haney.

A major switch in the system, which contains names of arriving passengers and law-enforcement data about them, including arrest warrants, failed and had to be replaced, said Mike Fleming, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman.

The computers were fully restored at 11:45 p.m., and the last backlogged passengers were processed by early yesterday, Mr. Fleming said.


Hurricane Flossie expected to weaken

HONOLULU — Hurricane Flossie packed 140 mph wind as it spun closer to Hawaii yesterday, but forecasters predicted that the Category 4 storm would weaken before passing by the islands later this week.

The hurricane was expected to pass about 70 miles south of Hawaii late tomorrow or early Wednesday, but by then cooler water should weaken it to a Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm.

At 11 a.m., Flossie was 810 miles east-southeast of Hilo and had maximum sustained wind near 140 mph with gusts reaching 165. It was traveling west at about 12 mph.

Even though the eye of the storm may miss the Hawaiian islands, Flossie could still bring strong wind and heavy rain to the islands, forecasters said.


Mother, 2 children die in house fire

NAPERVILLE — A fire swept through a suburban Chicago home, killing a woman and her two young children, authorities said yesterday.

Investigators were searching for the cause of the blaze that erupted Saturday.

Killed were Nimishaa Tiwari, 45; her son, Vakaghan, 4; and daughter, Fananya, 18 months old, said Naperville Police Sgt. Elizabeth Smith.

Officials said the fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the home.


Foster-home escapee charged in car thefts

HAWKEYE — A 12-year-old boy faces a list of charges after police say he stole six vehicles during a four-hour period as he fled a foster home. Officials say the vehicles apparently all had the keys in the ignitions.

The boy told deputies that he was running away from the foster home and didn’t want to go to another one.


Ex-mayor jailed over rundown boat

TOMS RIVER — The former mayor of Stafford is ordered to stay jailed until he finds a contractor to demolish the last of four decrepit boats from a residential lagoon.

Wesley Bell remained in the Ocean County jail Saturday, according to a jail official.

The day before, Judge John A. Peterson told the 69-year-old former mayor that he would stay in jail until he produced a signed agreement with a contractor to raise and demolish the MaBell, a 60-foot, wooden-hulled former lobster boat.

As Mr. Bell was taken to jail in handcuffs, he promised he’d replace the MaBell with another boat and that area residents will have to “live with it.”

Mr. Bell also went to jail earlier in the week when he was charged with aggravated assault on a law-enforcement official and disorderly conduct over what authorities claimed was his repeated shouting and pointing at Judge Peterson in a previous hearing.


Teacher resigns after dating porn star

MONESSEN — A high-school art teacher who went on a date with a porn star after winning a satellite radio contest resigned.

Jaison Biagini traveled to St. Petersburg, Fla., last month after winning the date on the Sirius satellite radio show “Bubba the Love Sponge.”

The school board voted Tuesday to accept his resignation.

Mr. Biagini, who taught art for 14 years at Monessen High School, said he entered the contest because he wanted to win the free trip and visit the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg. He described the date as being “all fake and staged.”


Woman uses limo in botched robbery

PROVIDENCE — A woman who traveled in a limousine to a botched bank-robbery attempt probably won’t get such swank transportation to her next destination: prison.

Evonne D. Maurice, 22, was sentenced Friday to more than three years in prison for trying to rob a Citizens Bank branch at a drive-up window while using a hired limousine as her getaway car.

Prosecutors say Maurice hired a limo in December 2005 to take her to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick but then told the driver that she missed her flight and needed to visit a bank so she could withdraw money to pay for the ride. Maurice of Westbrook, Conn., handed the teller a note demanding money, prosecutors said. But the teller triggered an alarm, and Maurice got back in the limo and left without any money.

Prosecutors say the driver was unaware of the robbery plot.

Maurice was arrested in Tampa, Fla., last year and pleaded guilty in May.


Girl dragged by van at boot camp

BANQUETE — Authorities charged the director of a Christian boot camp and an employee with dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van after she fell behind the group during a morning run.

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt of San Antonio-based Love Demonstrated Ministries, a 32-day boot camp for at-risk teens, are accused of tying the girl to the van with a rope June 12 and dragging her, according to an arrest affidavit filed Wednesday.

The girl was treated for scrapes and bruises on her stomach, legs and arms.

The girl’s mother gave investigators photos of her daughter’s injuries and a sworn statement from a witness who said they saw the girl dragged on her stomach at least three times.

Mr. Flowers and Miss Bassitt remained jailed Saturday, each on $100,000 bond for aggravated assault charges.


Woman attacks karaoke singer

SEATTLE — A woman attacked a karaoke singer belting out Coldplay on Thursday night, telling him that he was bad before she pushed and punched him to get him to stop singing, bar staff said.

When she was escorted outside, the 21-year-old woman “went crazy,” bartender Robert Willmette said, throwing punches at him and others, including an off-duty police officer. Before police could handcuff the woman, she headbutted the off-duty officer at least twice.

After treatment for injuries, the woman was booked into the King County jail for investigation of assault. She was also held on a warrant issued for a previous theft charge.

According to bartender notes, she had only a single shot of liquor.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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