- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

CALIFORNIA

Lawyer sentenced in kickback scheme

LOS ANGELES | A federal judge has sentenced law firm co-founder Melvyn Weiss to 30 months in prison for his role in a lucrative lawsuit kickback scheme targeting some of the largest corporations in the nation.

Weiss, 72, also was ordered Monday to pay $9.7 million in forfeitures and $250,000 in fines.

He pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in April as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Authorities say the law firm made about $250 million over two decades by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who received $11.3 million in kickbacks.

WISCONSIN

Cash found beneath 100-year-old shed

MILWAUKEE | Dan Deming had heard the rumors about buried treasure on his central Wisconsin farm.

At first he made some halfhearted attempts to find it, and then searched in earnest for two or three years after receiving a metal detector for his birthday.

“I don’t know what I thought, if I thought it was really there or not,” he said.

The mystery ended recently while Mr. Deming was tearing down a 100-year-old shed on his property. A rusted box tumbled from the rubble and wads of currency dating back to the Depression spilled onto the ground.

Mr. Deming briefly considered selling the bills to collectors, but the money was in poor condition. Instead, he turned it over to the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which redeems mutilated currency for face value, he said.

“I’m hoping it’ll be for $1,700 because that’s what the paper said,” Mr. Deming said.

ARIZONA

Officer shot in pursuit dies

TUCSON | A police officer who was shot in the head during a crosstown chase and shooting spree died Monday, authorities said.

Officer Erik Hite, 43, was struck during an hour-long pursuit Sunday of a camouflage-dressed gunman who shot at homes from a car. Two Pima County sheriff’s deputies were also shot and wounded less seriously.

David Nickolas Delich was charged with suspicion of first-degree murder. Mr. Delich, 25, had previously been booked on suspicion of four counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of discharging a firearm at a structure.

He was jailed on $2.5 million bond.

CALIFORNIA

Gay marriage ban qualifies for ballot

SAN FRANCISCO | An initiative that would again outlaw gay marriage in California has qualified for the November ballot, the secretary of state announced Monday.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said a random check of signatures submitted by the measure’s sponsors showed they had gathered enough names for it to be put to voters.

The measure would amend the state constitution to “provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

If approved by a majority of voters on Nov. 4, the amendment would overturn the recent California Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. It is similar to gay marriage bans that have been adopted in 26 other states.

FLORIDA

Physical education expanded statewide

TALLAHASSEE | Gov. Charlie Crist has signed a bill requiring Florida elementary schools to provide 30 minutes of continuous exercise daily for their students.

The bill signed into law Monday also requires middle schools to offer a daily physical education class to students in the sixth through eighth grades beginning in fall 2009.

Lawmakers passed a bill last year that required elementary schools to have 150 minutes of gym weekly. But lawmakers learned many schools didn’t fully comply with new standards and toughened up the requirements.

ILLINOIS

City pays staff to quit tobacco

METROPOLIS | Illinois‘ adopted home of Superman considers cigarettes an enemy, and it’s ready to pay a handsome reward to any city employee who can vanquish his or her smoking habit.

The southern Illinois tourist trap said it will pay city workers $1,000 apiece if they can stay off smokes for a year.

Mayor Billy McDaniel said the city has been looking for a way to get its employees off cigarettes for good. So far, he said, 15 people have signed up for the program that began Monday.

The plan calls for random nicotine tests to identify cheaters. Nicotine patches and gum will not affect those tests.

INDIANA

Skydiving plane crash-lands

GREENSBURG | The pilot of a skydiving plane made a crash landing in southeast Indiana on Sunday after his plane malfunctioned at 7,000 feet, forcing 14 skydivers to jump from the disabled aircraft.

Officials said no one was injured.

Decatur County sheriff’s Deputy Steve Snyder said the malfunction caused oil to spray on the plane’s windshield.

Skydive Greensburg owner Bob Dougherty said the pilot leveled off at 5,000 feet, allowing the skydivers to jump before he returned to the Greensburg airport. Two of the skydivers were making their first jump.

When the plane landed, its propellers hit the ground and the plane flipped over.

MASSACHUSETTS

Community service leveled in bomb scare

BOSTON | An MIT student who caused an airport bomb scare by wearing a blinking circuit board on her shirt was ordered Monday to perform 50 hours of community service and write a letter of apology.

An East Boston District judge placed Star Simpson on probation for a year. If Miss Simpson completes the probation, the disorderly conduct charge she faced will be dismissed.

Miss Simpson, a 20-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology student from Lahaina, Hawaii, had gone to Logan International Airport in September to pick up her boyfriend.

Her sweat shirt, which she described as a work of art, had a battery-powered circuit board with flashing lights. Security personnel became alarmed by the device and arrested her at gunpoint outside the airport.

MICHIGAN

Ex-Kevorkian lawyer acquitted of charges

DETROIT | A one-time attorney for assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian and his law partner were acquitted Monday of illegally funneling campaign money for the 2004 presidential race.

Jurors said they found Geoffrey Fieger, 57, not guilty of campaign finance violations because the government failed to prove the outspoken lawyer knew he was breaking the law.

Mr. Fieger and his law partner Ven Johnson, 46, were indicted on charges of illegally funneling $127,000 to former Sen. John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign by recruiting 64 people, known as straw donors, to make contributions in the then-maximum allowable amount of $2,000 per donor.

OHIO

Designer’s ashes buried in his work

CINCINNATI| The man who designed the Pringles potato crisp packaging system was so proud of his accomplishment that a portion of his ashes has been buried in one of the iconic cans.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice in Cincinnati, his family said. He was 89.

Mr. Baur’s children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township.

The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to a grandson, said Mr. Baur’s daughter, Linda Baur of Diamondhead, Miss.

Mr. Baur requested the burial arrangement because he was proud of his design of the Pringles container, a son, Lawrence Baur of Stevensville, Mich., said Monday.

PENNSYLVANIA

Guilty plea in ID theft that fueled lavish life

PHILADELPHIA | A man accused of a large identity theft scheme that paid for a lavish life with his girlfriend has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Edward Anderton, 25, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and bank fraud.

Anderton lived in a fashionable Philadelphia neighborhood with his then-girlfriend, Jocelyn Kirsch, 22. Prosecutors said they obtained $120,000 in goods and services after stealing financial information.

He is free on bail until his Aug. 29 sentencing.

Miss Kirsch is due in court Thursday. Prosecutors said she stole and used an acquaintance’s credit card in California, where she has been living while awaiting her federal plea.

UTAH

Report: Mine collapse likely lasted seconds

SALT LAKE CITY | A coal mine collapse that registered as a 3.9 magnitude earthquake and killed six miners occurred so quickly that it probably eliminated any chance for the men to escape, according to a report released Monday.

The Aug. 6 Crandall Canyon mine collapse began near the area where miners were excavating coal and quickly grew to a 50-acre cave-in, the University of Utah report said.

Three rescuers died 10 days later in a subsequent collapse.

Walter Arabasz, director of the university’s seismograph stations, said the initial collapse likely only took a few seconds, contrary to earlier reports.

The report said the area size of the cave-in was nearly four times larger than federal investigators initially thought. It also disputes claims by mine owner Bob Murray that an earthquake caused the mine collapse. The study said the mine collapse was the earthquake.

Mr. Murray declined to comment on the report Monday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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