- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

SOUTH CAROLINA

Investigators probe arson in prosecutor’s office

LANCASTER | Officials investigated a suspicious fire that gutted the prosecutor’s office in this rural county Thursday, three days after an arsonist torched the historic courthouse just half a block away.

Police warned residents of the city of 8,300 to be on the lookout for a dangerous suspect.

No one was injured in either fire, the latest of which started shortly after 4 a.m. in the prosecutor’s office in a one-story brick building that houses several other law offices in Lancaster’s small downtown, authorities said.

Police Capt. Harlean Howard said witnesses to the fires have been interviewed but urged more to come forward.

The 180-year-old Lancaster County Courthouse, designed by Washington Monument creator Robert Mills, suffered heavy damage in a blaze Monday that officials think was intentionally set.

WASHINGTON

Letter carrier wants kilts added as uniform

SEATTLE | A 6-foot-tall, 250-pound letter carrier is campaigning for the right to take off his pants.

Dean Peterson wants the U.S. Postal Service to add kilts as a uniform option for men.

The idea was soundly defeated in July at a convention of his union, the 220,000-member National Letter Carriers’ Association, so Mr. Peterson, 48, knows convincing management will be an uphill struggle, but at least he’ll be comfortable in his kilt, or Male Unbifurcated Garment.

“In one word, it’s comfort,” he said.

With his build, Mr. Peterson said, his thighs fill slacks to capacity, causing chafing and scarring.

Mr. Peterson wears kilts everywhere - to one son’s football games, the other son’s concerts, shopping and gardening.

ARIZONA

At least 9 die in SUV rollover

FLORENCE | A sport utility vehicle packed with suspected illegal immigrants flipped over on a rural highway southwest of Phoenix, killing at least nine people Thursday, authorities said.

The SUV that crashed on State Route 79, about 80 miles southeast of Phoenix, had 19 people aboard, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said. The other 10 occupants were injured and were taken to hospitals.

All the dead and injured were trapped inside the crumpled white SUV and had to be extricated by rescue crews.

DPS Lt. Mike Corbin said the Chevrolet Suburban was heading north just before 8 a.m. Thursday when it ran off the road, crossed a dry wash, slammed into a concrete abutment on the other side and flipped over. The roof caved in when the SUV rolled.

CALIFORNIA

Leader’s son denies sex charges

LOS ANGELES | The son of Bermuda’s prime minister Ewart Brown pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple charges of sex abuse stemming from accusations made by eight women.

Dr. Kevin Brown, 37, who is accused of 23 sex offenses against seven patients and an undercover police officer, was ordered to remain detained in lieu of $4 million bail at the hearing in Los Angeles.

Dr. Brown, a doctor at Crenshaw Expo Medical Center in Los Angeles, was arrested on July 8 after being accused of sexual battery against an 18-year-old woman in June 2007 and an undercover police officer earlier this year.

He was hit by a raft of new charges after more purported victims came forward following publicity surrounding his arrest.

Charges against Dr. Brown include a count of a lewd act with a 15-year-old child, rape, sexual battery by fraud and sexual exploitation between November 2006 and May this year.

If found guilty, Dr. Brown faces up to 25 years in prison.

CONNECTICUT

Immigration joins Rockefeller probe

HARTFORD | A Connecticut man said he is convinced the man accused of kidnapping his daughter in Boston and wanted for questioning in the 1985 disappearance of a California couple was a German student who lived with his family decades ago.

Immigration officials confirmed Thursday they have joined the investigation into the background of Clark Rockefeller, who is jailed in Boston on charges he snatched his 7-year-old daughter, Reigh, last month in an elaborately planned kidnapping.

Steve Savio, 39, of Berlin, Conn., said Thursday he is “100 percent certain” that Mr. Rockefeller is the same person who boarded with his family in 1980 under the name Christian Gerhart Reiter at age 17.

Mr. Savio said Greenwich Police interviewed his family in 1988 about a possible connection between Mr. Reiter and the disappearance of Jonathan and Linda Sohus, of San Marino, Calif. The FBI and German authorities interviewed them this week about Mr. Reiter and Mr. Rockefeller, he said.

Police have said Mr. Rockefeller, 48, snatched his daughter from a Boston street on July 27 in an elaborately planned kidnapping in which he hired two people to drive them to New York.

He was caught Saturday in Baltimore, where he had bought a home and boat. Prosecutors said 300 one-ounce gold coins and $12,000 in cash also were found in Mr. Rockefeller’s apartment following his arrest.

FLORIDA

Man charged in agent’s death

DAVIE | The man arrested in the killing of a federal agent outside a Florida post office is in a hospital for personal medical reasons, police said.

Police Sgt. Bryan Davis said Thursday that James Patrick Wonder, 65, was hospitalized after being questioned by police. Authorities said he was at a dialysis center when he was caught.

Mr. Wonder is charged with first-degree murder. He’s accused of fatally shooting customs agent Donald Pettit, 52, Tuesday morning in Pembroke Pines after some sort of argument. The agent’s 12-year-old daughter witnessed the shooting.

Police said her detailed description of the shooter and an anonymous tip led to the arrest.

MICHIGAN

Workers tried to get Granholm records

LANSING | A Michigan hospital said it fired or disciplined employees for trying to obtain computerized medical information about Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Sparrow Hospital spokesman John Berg told the Detroit Free Press the breach of Mrs. Granholm’s medical records was discovered during a routine audit. He said an unspecified number of employees were disciplined but wouldn’t give details.

The 49-year-old Democratic governor underwent emergency surgery at the Lansing hospital April 29 to remove an obstruction in her small intestine.

MISSOURI

Three plead guilty in online gambling

ST. LOUIS | Three men who helped promote the online gambling firm BetOnSports have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

William Hernan Lenis, his son, Will Lenis, and nephew Manny Lenis entered the pleas Wednesday in St. Louis. Attorneys for the Miami men said they were minor players caught up in a high-profile investigation.

The U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis in 2006 accused BetOnSports, its executives and others of illegally accepting bets online.

Later that year, the government settled civil charges against BetOnSports and permanently barred the company from accepting any bets from U.S. gamblers. The company pleaded guilty last year.

The case has been watched closely by the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry.

Officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis declined to comment on Wednesday’s pleas, citing pending cases against BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan and former chief executive David Carruthers.

NEW YORK

Police: Club worker confesses to death

NEW YORK | A bar worker at a popular Times Squares karaoke club was arrested Thursday after confessing to beating a woman to death with a pipe on the club’s roof during an argument, police said.

Syed Rahman, 24, admitted he smashed Ingrid Rivera over the head at about 2:45 a.m. Monday during a birthday party for rapper Lil’ Kim that the victim had paid to attend, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference. Her body was discovered Wednesday afternoon.

It was not clear what Mr. Rahman and Miss Rivera, who had met for the first time inside Spotlight Live club that night, were arguing about. But a friend of Miss Rivera pointed police to Mr. Rahman by telling them she had fought off his sexual advances on the roof shortly before the slaying, Commissioner Kelly said.

Charges against Mr. Rahman, who had worked at the club for four years and had no criminal record, were pending.

NORTH CAROLINA

Woman probed over dead spouses

CHARLOTTE | Investigators in Ohio and Florida are looking into the deaths of men with ties to a Georgia grandmother who has had five dead husbands, authorities said Thursday.

Earlier this week, Georgia police closed their re-examination of the death of Betty Neumar’s fifth husband.

The 76-year-old woman is charged in North Carolina in the death of her fourth husband, and authorities in Florida and Ohio said their investigations of the deaths of her third husband and only son are under way.

OREGON

Killer gets life plus pizza in deal

PORTLAND | A New York man who pleaded guilty to murder in Oregon in exchange for buckets of fried chicken will get calzones and pizza to go with his life sentence.

Tremayne Durham, 33, of New York City, admitted last month that he fatally shot Adam Calbreath, 39, of Gresham, in June 2006. Durham wanted to sell ice cream and ordered an $18,000 truck from an Oregon company. He later changed his mind, but the company wouldn’t provide a refund.

The would-be ice cream man came to Oregon and killed Mr. Calbreath, a former employee of the company, while looking for its owner, authorities said.

Durham agreed to plead guilty to murder - but only if he could get a break from jail food.

The judge agreed and granted Durham a feast of KFC chicken, Popeye’s chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream.

After Wednesday’s sentencing, Durham was to get the rest of the deal - calzones, lasagna, pizza and ice cream, his defense attorney confirmed. They will pay the tab.

WEST VIRGINIA

Mom: Walkie-talkie picks up CB chatter

HUNTINGTON | A West Virginia mother is seeking a recall of a popular walkie-talkie after her 3-year-old’s toy apparently intercepted a profanity-laced conversation between truckers about drugs and strip clubs.

Deborah Pancaro, 34, said she contacted Fisher-Price after she heard a conversation in which a man said “10-4” and other things that led her to think the device was relaying a CB radio conversation.

“They said we should go smoke some weed, and were talking about being in a strip bar, some really explicit things,” Mrs. Pancaro said Thursday.

The walkie-talkie is sold exclusively at Wal-Mart and allows children to role-play animal rescues like the Diego character does on the cartoon series “Dora the Explorer” and “Go, Diego, Go!”

The walkie-talkie is supposed to have a range of about 20 feet, but Mrs. Pancaro said she heard one of the voices say he was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, about 275 miles north of Huntington.

WISCONSIN

Suit against religion in vets care rejected

MADISON | Taxpayers cannot sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for incorporating religion into its health care programs for the nation’s veterans, an appeals court has ruled.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and three of its members have no legal standing to bring the case.

The group was trying to end the department’s practice of asking patients about their religion in “spiritual assessments,” its use of chaplains to treat patients, and drug and alcohol treatment programs that incorporate religion. It claimed those practices violated the separation of church and state.

But the court ruled that federal taxpayers cannot challenge those expenditures. The court cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in which the same group was not allowed to sue over President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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