- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ILLINOIS

Drownings mom free on parole

DWIGHT | A woman convicted in the drowning deaths of her three children has been released on parole after serving part of a 10-year sentence, Illinois prison officials said.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said Amanda Hamm left the Dwight Correctional Center on Tuesday morning.

Hamm was convicted of child endangerment in 2006 in the deaths of 6-year-old Christopher Hamm, 3-year-old Austin Brown and 23-month-old Kyleigh Hamm. The children died after the family’s car sank in a central Illinois lake.

Hamm’s boyfriend, Maurice LaGrone Jr., is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors said Hamm and LaGrone planned the drownings at the lake near their home in Clinton because the children were in the way of their relationship. The couple has claimed the deaths were an accident.

IOWA

Child labor charges filed against plant

DES MOINES | The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has filed child labor charges against the owner and managers of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant, the site of one of the largest workplace immigration raids in U.S. history.

The complaint filed Tuesday purports more than 9,000 violations of Iowa’s child labor law at the plant in Potsville. The attorney general’s office said the violations occurred from Sept. 9, 2007, to May 12.

The complaint indicates that the violations involved 32 children younger than 18, including seven who were younger than 16.

The Agriprocessors plant was the site of a May 12 federal immigration raid that led to the arrest of nearly 400 people, making it one of the largest single-site raids in U.S. history.

MAINE

Stolen ape statue found in cornfield

EAST MACHIAS | An 8-foot-tall mechanical gorilla that was stolen from its longtime location outside a store during daylight hours has turned up several hundred miles away, with an apologetic ransom demand.

The arm-waving primate disappeared during the Labor Day weekend and store owner Lowell Miller and his wife, Sandy, marveled at how such a big ape on a heavy base could have been taken without attracting attention.

The gorilla’s creator, Ken Booth of the Gorilla Robot Factory in Akron, Ohio, helped out by posting a YouTube video seeking the gorilla’s return and offering a reward.

Then another video turned up on YouTube, showing a hooded person demanding a $1 million ransom, apologizing for causing a flap. “I didn’t know it’d be such a big deal,” the hooded abductor said.

Now the gorilla has turned up in a cornfield at Swanton, Vt. Mrs. Miller intends to press charges.

MASSACHUSETTS

Sept. 11 memorial opens in Boston

BOSTON | A $3.5 million memorial honoring those who died when terrorists hijacked two planes from Boston and crashed them into New York’s World Trade Center seven years ago has been dedicated at Logan International Airport.

The 2.5-acre site was dedicated at Boston’s airport Tuesday.

The outdoor memorial, next to the Hilton Hotel and a parking garage, is planted with grass and gingko trees. Two walkways lead up a small knoll to a glass cube containing the names of the people aboard American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, which took off from Logan on Sept. 11, 2001.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the memorial also serves as a reminder of the resilience of the United States.

MICHIGAN

Woman pleads guilty to 1976 escape

DETROIT | A California woman who escaped from a Michigan prison more than 30 years ago and remade her life as a suburban mother pleaded guilty to escape Tuesday after a judge said he would give her probation.

Susan LeFevre, 53, was in court for a routine hearing on the escape charge. But that changed unexpectedly after the offer from Wayne County Circuit Judge Leonard Townsend, defense attorney William Swor said.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 24. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office said it’s satisfied with Tuesday’s guilty plea.

However, Mrs. LeFevre must serve at least 5½ years on the drug charge that led to her original sentence of at least 10 years in prison sentence before getting a chance at parole.

She was convicted of a heroin charge in Saginaw County but climbed a prison fence in 1976 with help from her grandfather.

NEW JERSEY

Lawyers seek delay in terror case

CAMDEN | A law enforcement expert who has spent more than 200 hours reviewing evidence in the case of five men charged with planning to attack soldiers at Fort Dix said Tuesday that he will not be able to help the men at trial.

Defense lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler to delay the trial — now scheduled to begin Sept. 29 — long enough for them to find another expert.

Gregory Lee, a former Drug Enforcement Administration officer who now works as a consultant, is also an Army reservist, and he told the judge that a military regulation prohibiting personnel from testifying against government interests constrains him from working on the Fort Dix case.

Lawyers in the case said Mr. Lee did not know about the rule until the past few weeks.

The five defendants, all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s who have spent much of their lives in New Jersey, were charged in May 2007 with plotting to kill soldiers on the Army base, which primarily trains reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They face charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder uniformed military personnel, and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

RHODE ISLAND

Prisons strike deal on inmate illegals

PROVIDENCE | Rhode Island’s prison system has entered an agreement with federal immigration authorities that would allow for the early release of illegal immigrants imprisoned for nonviolent offenses if they agree to be deported.

Gov. Don Carcieri announced the agreement Tuesday between the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Under the deal, illegal immigrants in state custody could get an early release if they have been ordered to leave the U.S. and agree not to return. Ex-prisoners who return to the U.S. illegally could be forced to serve the remainder of their state sentence and could face new federal charges.

It was not clear when the new measures would take effect.

The deal comes after Mr. Carcieri issued an executive order in March forcing state police and prison officials to identify illegal immigrations for potential deportation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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