- - Friday, July 10, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Furloughs to close government offices

SACRAMENTO — Most California state government offices will be closed Friday, the first of three monthly furlough days intended to save the state money.

The shutdowns are part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order to give state employees three days off a month without pay, effectively reducing their income about 14 percent.

In February, the governor ordered workers to take two days off a month without pay. He recently expanded the furlough after lawmakers failed to cut employees’ pay by an additional 5 percent.

California needs to conserve cash because its budget is $26.3 billion out of balance.

The two-day-a-month closures were expected to save the state $1.3 billion between February and July 2010. The third furlough day will save another $425 million in the current fiscal year.

HAWAII

Renowned hotel to shut its doors

HONOLULU — The Y-shaped Ilikai hotel that has graced the Waikiki skyline for nearly five decades — and hosted guests ranging from U.S. presidents to Elvis Presley — is closing.

The new owner is ceasing hotel operations of the iconic property after Thursday’s business day because of mounting operating losses.

New York-based iStar Financial Inc., which acquired the hotel for $51 million at a foreclosure auction in May, has not indicated what it will do with the 203 hotel rooms in the 1,000-unit hotel-condo property.

Guests are being relocated to other hotels.

The 30-story Ilikai was considered Hawaii’s first luxury high-rise hotel when it was completed in 1964. It gained prominence in the 1970s when it was featured in the opening sequence of the hit TV series “Hawaii Five-0.”

ILLINOIS

Crackdown nets 35,000 fugitives

CHICAGO — Police searching for fugitive sex offenders, violent criminals and gang members made more than 35,000 arrests nationwide during an annual monthlong crackdown, the most in the roundup’s 5-year history and nearly double the number from last year, authorities announced Thursday.

The U.S. Marshals Service said the latest “Operation Falcon” captured 433 murder suspects and 900 gang members. Many of the fugitives were arrested on weapons and narcotics charges. The roundup also netted nearly 5,800 violent criminals along the U.S.-Mexico border, an area that has seen a spike in violence in recent months.

MICHIGAN

5 teens killed in train crash

CANTON TOWNSHIP — An Amtrak passenger train carrying about 150 people struck a car at a road crossing near Detroit on Thursday, killing all five people in the sedan, authorities said. The victims were thought to be teens.

The crossing has a gate and flashing lights that were thought to be working when the car approached, said Sgt. Mark Gajeski, a police spokesman.

The victims were thought to be four males, between 17 and 18, and a 14-year-old female, he said, based on who was supposed to be in the car at the time, according to its registered owner. The bodies remained trapped in the sedan two hours after the crash, Sgt. Gajeski said. He said the train typically travels at a speed of about 67 miles per hour at the site.

The only reported medical problem among the approximately 150 people on the train was a case of a passenger with asthma, he said.

The crash occurred about 12:30 p.m., said police Sgt. Craig Wilsher.

MINNESOTA

Suspect sentenced for aiding al Qaeda

MINNEAPOLIS — A terrorism suspect who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda could serve a little less than a year in prison and then be deported to Canada.

U.S. District John R. Tunheim sentenced Mohammed Abdullah Warsame on Thursday to seven years and eight months in prison but gave him credit for the time he has spent in custody. With credit for good behavior, Warsame could be out of prison in about 10 months.

Warsame, 35, has spent more than 5½ years in solitary confinement in Minnesota. His attorneys were hoping for a sentence of only the time he has served.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of 12½ years.

In his plea agreement, Warsame admitted to conspiring with others to help al Qaeda beginning in 2000. Authorities claim he attended an al Qaeda training camp run by Osama bin Laden, dined with the terrorist leader, attended another camp and fought with the Taliban.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Tax evaders face decades in prison

CONCORD — Tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown were convicted Thursday on all counts of plotting to kill federal agents during a nine-month standoff at their fortlike home in rural New Hampshire.

The Browns, in their 60s, face a mandatory minimum 30-year prison sentence on one charge alone.

The Browns holed up in their hilltop home in early 2007 to avoid arrest after being convicted of tax evasion. They amassed an arsenal of high-powered weapons and explosives, including booby-traps in woods surrounding the home.

During the trial, Ed Brown testified that the weapons were for self-defense, saying he believed the government planned to kill him and his wife. The two were arrested in October 2007 without incident.

NEW YORK

Madoff won’t appeal 150-year term

NEW YORK — Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff will not appeal his 150-year sentence for a fraud that unraveled overnight in December when Madoff confessed to his sons that nearly $65 billion he promised investors was safe was actually only worth a few hundred million dollars.

“We won’t be appealing the sentence,” Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin, said Thursday. He declined to say why the decision was made.

Madoff, 71, was sentenced last week for a fraud that spanned at least two decades. He pleaded guilty in March to charges that he bilked thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.

From wire dispatches and staff reports