- - Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Dodgers’ owner marital deal ruled invalid

LOS ANGELES | A judge has ruled that a postnuptial marital agreement giving sole ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Frank McCourt is not valid — a decision that isn’t expected to affect team operations, but means the Dodgers could be shared under California community-property law.

Jamie McCourt’s attorney, David Boies, said his client was pleased with the decision, but she wants a reasonable resolution of divorce negotiations that involved the postnuptial agreement.

Attorneys for Frank McCourt will likely ask Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon for a hearing to argue he is the sole owner of the Dodgers because he has title to the team, stadium and surrounding land — worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The tentative ruling by Judge Gordon came after an 11-day trial that focused on whether the signed pact between the McCourts in 2004 should decide who owns the team.

INDIANA

Church financier sentenced for fraud

SULLIVAN | A former southern Indiana pastor will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for pocketing millions of dollars that investors thought would be spent on building or expanding churches.

A judge sentenced Vaughn Reeves, 66, to 54 years in prison during a court hearing Tuesday. A jury convicted him in October on nine counts of securities fraud.

Authorities say Reeves and his three sons duped about 11,000 investors into buying bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on construction projects at about 150 churches.

Prosecutors say the men diverted money from new investments to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million and buying two airplanes, sports cars and vacations.

Reeves’ sons are scheduled to go on trial early next year.

MARYLAND

State workers offered $15,000 buyouts

ANNAPOLIS | Maryland’s governor is offering buyouts to executive branch employees in a bid to cut the size of state government.

The executive order signed Tuesday by Gov. Martin O’Malley offers $15,000 plus $200 for each year of service and three months of medical, prescription and dental benefits to select employees. Those accepted can’t rejoin state government for 18 months.

The governor’s office did not say how many of the state’s 79,000 employees would be eligible for the buyout.

Mr. O’Malley said that the state continues to face significant budget challenges and needs to cut costs. The governor’s office said eligible employees have until Jan. 4 to apply.

Maryland’s budget gap is about $1.6 billion for the next fiscal year, state budget analysts warned lawmakers last month.

NEW JERSEY

New law to protect student athletes

EAST RUTHERFORD | New Jersey is taking action aimed at protecting student athletes from brain injuries.

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed into law a bill that requires coaches to remove any player who shows signs of a concussion. Those students would need to be cleared by a doctor before they can compete again.

All public and private school districts in the state also would have to develop policies to handle head injuries.

Mr. Christie signed the bill at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford. He was joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson, and several former New York Giants defensive players.

NEW YORK

Businessman forfeits millions in Madoff case

NEW YORK | A 97-year-old Boston-area apparel entrepreneur agreed Tuesday to forfeit $625 million to be distributed to cheated investors in imprisoned Bernard Madoff’s historic Ponzi scheme, authorities revealed, as a court trustee said negotiations are under way to recover money as well from the owners of the New York Mets.

The U.S. government said in papers filed in federal court in Manhattan that Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist Carl Shapiro, one of the first investors in Madoff’s investment business and a longtime Madoff friend, entered the forfeiture deal along with his partners.

The papers were filed by the government to recover the money from the accounts of JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. It said the proceeds would be distributed to Madoff investors. The papers said Shapiro held an account in his name with Madoff’s investment business since 1961 and had controlled accounts for others from time to time. Madoff started his investment business in 1959.

OREGON

Spy’s son gets probation for cooperation

PORTLAND | A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the son of an imprisoned spy to five years of probation for helping his father contact his old Russian handlers in a scheme to collect money from them while behind bars.

Nathan Nicholson, 26, son of ex-CIA agent Harold Nicholson, pleaded guilty to a pair of conspiracy charges and could have faced a prison term.

But federal prosecutors say the son helped them build a case against his father on charges that the older Nicholson used his son as a courier to contact Russian agents from prison so that he could try to get a “pension” from them.

In a sentencing memo, prosecutors recommended probation for the younger Nicholson because of his “extraordinary early cooperation against his father” and because he had been manipulated by his dad.

VIRGINIA

JMU sports case argued in court

RICHMOND | An attorney for a sports advocacy group urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to reinstate its lawsuit challenging James Madison University’s decision to eliminate 10 sports teams to achieve gender balance.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond heard oral arguments in the case Tuesday. The court usually takes several weeks to rule.

Lawrence J. Joseph, attorney for Equity in Athletics Inc., urged the panel to overturn a federal judge’s dismissal of its lawsuit alleging equal-protection violations by the university and the U.S. Department of Education. Judge Glen Conrad threw out the suit in January.

Equity in Athletics is a coalition of student athletes, coaches, parents and fans that formed after JMU announced in 2006 that it was cutting seven men’s teams and three women’s teams to comply with Title IX, the 1972 federal law requiring gender equality in men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports. The university said the goal was for athletic participation to match enrollment, which was 61 percent female and 39 percent male.

To achieve that ratio, JMU eliminated men’s archery, cross country, gymnastics, indoor track, outdoor track, swimming and wrestling, as well as women’s archery, fencing and gymnastics teams.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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