Police say gambler admits robbing banks
CARLISLE A California man drove up next to a patrolman and said he wanted to confess to bank robberies in three states, blaming his crimes on a gambling habit, police said.
Thomas Michael Everett, 57, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., told Patrolman Chris Castleberry that he had a problem and needed to get help. Mr. Everett admitted robbing the banks and losing the money at casinos, Patrolman Castleberry said.
FBI agents questioned Mr. Everett after he surrendered Tuesday. Agents said surveillance video and Mr. Everett's statements tie him to robberies in Nipomo, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; and one in Jackson, Miss.
John Strong, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Little Rock office, said the robberies were unarmed. Mr. Everett was in jail in Little Rock yesterday, being held for the U.S. Marshals Service.
Sheriff defends anti-alien hot line
PHOENIX The county sheriff said he won't disconnect a hot line he created for people to report information about illegal aliens that has been decried as promoting ethnic profiling.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stressed that deputies would investigate people only if authorities had probable cause. The hot line began Friday and has received about 300 messages, including tips about family and friends, day laborers, houses where smugglers drop illegal aliens, and crank calls.
Sheriff Arpaio said officials are analyzing the tips but have not acted on any. "There's nothing unconstitutional about putting up a hot line," he said, pointing out that federal immigration officials have similar hot lines.
Some Hispanic advocacy groups will set up a hot line of their own to take tips from people who think they have been unfairly reported to Sheriff Arpaio's hot line, said Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor.
Explosion kills 2 at space-rocket site
MOJAVE An explosion yesterday killed two workers and critically injured four others at a Mojave Desert airport site used by the pioneering aerospace company that sent the first private manned rocket into space, authorities said.
The blast at a Mojave Air and Space Port facility belonging to Scaled Composites LLC also left some toxic material, said Kern County fire Capt. Doug Johnston. All the victims worked for Scaled.
It was not known what exploded or how it happened. The accident involved nitrous oxide, but it was not known whether a rocket motor test was under way or whether it occurred during preparation for a test, fire Inspector Tony Diffenbaugh said.
Scaled is the Mojave-based builder of SpaceShipOne, the first private manned rocket to reach space, and is developing a successor for the new space tourism business Virgin Galactic.
TB patient released from hospital
DENVER — The tuberculosis patient who created an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding was released yesterday from a hospital after successfully completing inpatient treatment, officials said.
Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta lawyer whose TB strain was resistant to multiple drugs, underwent surgery on July 17 to remove a diseased portion of his right lung.
The doctors who treated him at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver don't consider him completely cured, but the lung operation and antibiotic treatments "have eliminated any detectable evidence of infection," the hospital said. Mr. Speaker will need to continue antibiotic treatment for about two years.
Hospital spokesman William Allstetter said yesterday that Mr. Speaker left Denver in an air ambulance and returned to Georgia to recuperate.
New Mexicans allowed same-sex 'marriage'
BOSTON — Homosexual couples from New Mexico can "marry" in Massachusetts because their home state has not explicitly banned same-sex "marriage," Massachusetts officials say.
New Mexico and Rhode Island are the only states whose homosexual residents can get licenses in Massachusetts, the only state that performs same-sex "marriages." Neither Rhode Island nor New Mexico has said it will recognize the union after its residents return home.
Stanley Nyberg, Massachusetts' Registrar of Vital Records, instructed city and town clerks in a July 18 notice to give "marriage" licenses to same-sex couples from New Mexico.
Swimming pool stolen from yard
PATERSON — Daisy Valdivia is annoyed that someone stole her backyard pool — and baffled at how they did it without leaving behind a splash, drip or trace of the 1,000 gallons of water it contained.
Mrs. Valdivia awoke to find her family's hip-high, inflatable, 10-foot diameter swimming pool gone from her back yard Wednesday.
Mrs. Valdivia told the Record of Bergen County that the theft must have occurred between 1 a.m., when her husband went to bed, and 5 a.m., when she awoke. She was amazed someone could steal the pool that quickly and just wanted to know "what ... they did with the water," she said.
'Smile' dentist frowns on utility
NEW YORK — A dentist who specializes in "smile improvements" sued utility Consolidated Edison for $25 million for not being able to use his office since last week's steam-pipe explosion in Manhattan.
Self-described celebrity dentist Bruce Haber, 55, said he has had no access to his office since July 18, when an 83-year-old underground steam pipe ruptured during evening rush hour, sending a geyser of debris, vapor, asbestos and water hundreds of feet into the air.
"It's been emotionally horrible. It's been professionally devastating," he said, adding that he and his staff raced down 25 flights of stairs to flee, thinking a bomb exploded and the building might collapse.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday in New York State Court and is the second brought against the utility since the explosion. A woman who witnessed the explosion and whose sister died in the September 11 attacks is seeking unspecified damages from the utility citing emotional distress.
Pennies lead to teen in cabdriver killing
SEATTLE — A trail of pennies from a burning taxicab led authorities to the home of a teenager, who is charged with killing the cabdriver, authorities said.
Driver Jagit Singh was working the night shift for Farwest Taxi when a caller reported seeing a cab in flames and rolling backward down a street about 2:30 a.m. July 10, King County Sheriff's Detective Eleanor R. Broggi wrote in a court affidavit.
Mr. Singh was found dead inside with two gunshots to the back of his head. Nearby, a trail of pennies led up the driveway of a home, Detective Broggi wrote.
Earnest Lenell Collins, 18, who was charged with murder, and his 16-year-old brother lived in that home, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and a search turned up clothing with burn marks, investigators said. The two brothers were arrested Monday in Chicago and await extradition, sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart said. Mr. Collins' brother, whose name was not released, was held on an unrelated fourth-degree assault warrant.
Prosecutors said robbery appeared to be the motive for the killing.
3 officers convicted in racial beating case
MILWAUKEE — Three white former police officers were convicted yesterday of beating a biracial man outside a party and violating his civil rights, but a suspended officer was acquitted in the case.
Federal prosecutors said the four were part of a group of off-duty officers who beat Frank Jude Jr. in October 2004 outside a housewarming party for one of the officers.
The jury, which included one black man, convicted fired officers Jon Bartlett, 35, Daniel Masarik, 27, and Andrew Spengler, 28, of violating Mr. Jude's civil rights and conspiring to assault him while acting as officers.
Suspended officer Ryan Packard, 27, was acquitted of both charges.
An all-white jury acquitted Bartlett, Masarik and Spengler of most state charges last year. Six months later, federal prosecutors charged those three and Mr. Packard, as well as four others, who pleaded guilty to similar federal charges.
From wire dispatches and staff reports