- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2007

ALABAMA

21 arrested in drug probe

BIRMINGHAM — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other law-enforcement officials yesterday arrested 21 persons in an ongoing criminal investigation that targeted a drug smuggling gang here suspected of distributing cocaine and crack cocaine.

A 37-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury has been under seal since December. It named David Smith, 58, of Boligee, Ala., as the gang leader. The indictment accused Mr. Smith of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, using a communications facility to facilitate drug trafficking, conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine.

“This was a very complex and long-term investigation into the drug trafficking activities of an organization that has operated with impunity for many years,” said Gregory Borland, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in Alabama.

Mr. Borland described the drug trafficking organization as a major distributor of cocaine and crack cocaine to high- and midlevel dealers throughout western Alabama.

CALIFORNIA

Man marks 20,000 roller coaster rides

WHITTIER — Richard Krieger’s life is a roller coaster.

Since semi-retiring from odd jobs, the Whittier resident has spent his days at Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park riding the gravity-defying Xcelerator roller coaster.

On Saturday, he boarded the coaster for the 20,000th time, a park record.

“I’m not sick of it yet,” said Mr. Krieger, 61, who has been on the ride an average of 12 times a day for the past 4 years.

The Xcelerator blasts riders into a 205-foot climb at 82 mph. It is one of Mr. Krieger’s three favorite roller coasters in the country. He once rode it 124 times in one day, a feat that took eight hours.

After his milestone Saturday, Mr. Krieger, who said he became hooked on roller coasters growing up in Michigan, was presented with a certificate and an Xcelerator jacket.

CONNECTICUT

Ex-church official admits to child porn

BRIDGEPORT — A longtime music director of a church where former President George Bush once worshipped pleaded guilty yesterday to possessing child pornography.

Robert F. Tate, 64, of Greenwich, admitted possessing 150 to 300 pornographic images of children, some engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Prosecutors said some children in the images were younger than 12.

“Yes, your honor, I regret to say I did it,” Tate told a federal judge.

Court records accuse Tate of possessing digital images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and refer to “apparent foreign travel for purpose of photographing children.”

Tate is a former music director of Christ Church in Greenwich, which Mr. Bush attended while growing up. Funeral services for Mr. Bush’s parents, Prescott Bush Sr. and Dorothy Walker Bush, were held there.

FLORIDA

Officer disciplined for pulling cart

BRADENTON — A police officer who dragged a homeless woman’s shopping cart alongside his cruiser for 12 miles so she wouldn’t lose her belongings was ordered to undergo retraining and counseling.

Officer Nicholas Evans, 26, was praised by homeless advocates but jeered by peers after arresting Marie Brooks on an outstanding warrant and then pulling her cart to the county jail. The trip took an hour.

Officer Evans, who has been with the department for three years, will not be suspended for 20 days as a lieutenant had recommended, Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said Friday.

Department investigators concluded that Officer Evans showed poor conduct for an officer because he brought negative attention to himself and to the department.

Also, Officer Evans was written up for failing to follow state law — towing a cart could be considered careless driving, a police report said — and failing to operate a vehicle safely.

ILLINOIS

Study finds selenium helps AIDS patients

CHICAGO — AIDS patients who took selenium suppressed the deadly virus in their bodies and boosted their fragile immune systems, adding to evidence that the mineral has healing powers, researchers said yesterday.

An 18-month study of 262 patients with AIDS found those who took a daily capsule containing 200 micrograms of selenium, a semi-metallic element found in some foods and soils that is a byproduct of copper production, ended up with lower levels of the AIDS virus and more health-giving CD4 immune system cells in their bloodstreams than those taking a dummy pill.

“The exact mechanism by which selenium exerts its effects on HIV-1 viral replication is not known, although the literature suggests several possibilities,” lead author Barry Hurwitz of the University of Miami wrote in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Selenium, which is sold as a dietary supplement, is an antioxidant that can repair the damage done to immune system cells by oxygen, which is more actively produced in the bodies of AIDS patients. Another theory holds that the AIDS virus needs selenium to replicate itself and attacks more cells to find it, so providing more selenium slows the virus’s advance.

KENTUCKY

Drunken juror forces new trial

LOUISVILLE — A judge ordered a new trial in a case in which a juror sipped vodka throughout the trial.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Morris said in his order that new trials may be granted only in the most extreme circumstances, but he said “the inexcusable, disruptive behavior of this juror was so extraordinary as to render this relief appropriate.”

The case involved a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed she was injured when a garbage truck ran into her car.

The jury foreman told Judge Morris that the juror had been disruptive and uncooperative during deliberations, and eventually became so inebriated that she could not participate.

After the verdict arrived, Judge Morris discovered that the clear liquid the woman had been sipping all day from a plastic water bottle was vodka.

TEXAS

City modifies anti-illegals law

FARMERS BRANCH — The City Council of this Dallas suburb agreed last night to revise an ordinance requiring apartment landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

The revision exempts minors and people 62 and older from having to prove their immigration status or citizenship. Also, families made up of citizens and illegals could renew apartment leases if they meet three conditions: They are already tenants, the head of household or spouse is living legally in the U.S., and the family includes only the spouse, their minor children or parents.

The revised rule was approved unanimously after the council heard from dozens of speakers. It will go to voters May 12.

Supporters of the rental ordinance say the changes try to address the lawsuits the city faces and incorporate rules from federal housing laws at the local level.

“I think it was brilliantly simple,” said Tom Bohmier of Support Farmers Branch, a group in favor of the ordinance.

WISCONSIN

Ice-cream thief atones with party

LA CROSSE — “Earl” ate the stolen ice cream 35 years ago, but the guilt has been eating at him ever since.

The Green Bay-area businessman decided to atone for his sin by returning to the scene of the crime, his former middle school, and treating students to an ice-cream party.

The donor preferred to remain anonymous, but staff members at Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse have dubbed him Earl after title character Earl Hickey on NBC’s “My Name is Earl,” in which Earl sets out to right his past wrongs.

Vice Principal Jacque Durnford lauded the man’s attempt to do the right thing more than three decades after the crime, but “I think his statute of limitations is up,” she joked.

“Earl” and a friend had stolen ice cream from the school cafeteria when he was a student.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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