- - Friday, February 5, 2010

ARIZONA

Self-help speaker charged in deaths

CAMP VERDE — Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray on Thursday pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter in the deaths of three people at an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony he led last year.

Mr. Ray was indicted and arrested on Wednesday for the deaths, which occurred at an Oct. 8 ceremony intended to be the highlight of his five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event. The ceremony was held at a retreat center he rented near Sedona.

Mr. Ray’s lawyer entered the plea on his behalf.

Mr. Ray is being held in the Yavapai County, Ariz., jail on $5 million bond and faces a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 12 1/2 years on each count.

CALIFORNIA

Socialite’s death linked to diabetes

LOS ANGELES — Socialite Casey Johnson’s death was related to her nearly lifelong diabetes, the Los Angeles County coroner said Thursday.

Johnson, 30, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson health care products fortune, died of diabetic ketoacidosis, the coroner said in a terse news release. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition caused by lack of insulin and sky-high blood sugar.

An autopsy was conducted Jan. 5, a day after Johnson’s body was found at her home.

The daughter of New York Jets owner Robert “Woody” Johnson, Johnson lived a party life, and in December she announced her engagement to bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila.

COLORADO

Kingpin sentenced in racketeering case

DENVER — A Mexican drug kingpin who led a fearsome cartel for more than a decade has been sentenced in Denver to 17 years in prison for marijuana and racketeering.

Miguel Angel Caro Quintero was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty last fall. Caro Quintero pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in Colorado and one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in Arizona.

Caro Quintero led the Sonora Cartel, which authorities say smuggled thousands of tons of marijuana and cocaine in the 1980s.

His brother, former cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero, was convicted in the 1985 torture-slaying of undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar.

Rafael Caro Quintero is in prison in Mexico for Camarena’s murder.

FLORIDA

Surfer dies in rare shark attack

STUART — Sharks killed a kite surfer off an Atlantic beach in a rare fatal attack in Florida waters.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said a lifeguard first saw Stephen Howard Schafer, 38, in distress Wednesday about 500 yards from shore, near the town of Stuart.

The lifeguard paddled out and found sharks encircling Mr. Schafer. The lifeguard put Mr. Schafer on his rescue board and paddled back to shore. Paramedics took Mr. Schafer to a hospital, where he later died.

While swimmers and surfers often receive minor bites in Florida, officials say fatal shark attacks are extremely rare.

HAWAII

Frank Fasi, former mayor, dies

HONOLULU — Former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, who served as Honolulu mayor for 22 years and ran unsuccessfully for Hawaii governor five times, died of natural causes Wednesday. He was 89.

Mr. Fasi’s son, David, issued an e-mail saying his father died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his wife and children.

A Democrat most of his career, Mr. Fasi also ran as a Republican and as an independent when it suited his purposes.

Mr. Fasi was mayor from 1968 until 1980 and then again in 1984-94. His last run for statewide office came in 1998, when he lost the Republican gubernatorial primary.

NEVADA

Man, 70, arrested in fatal casino crash

LAS VEGAS — A 70-year-old Washington state man has been freed on $6,000 bail pending arraignment on felony charges in a deadly Nevada casino crash that killed two people and injured at least seven, authorities said.

Walter McGie of Kelso, Wash., was released late Wednesday from the local police lockup in Laughlin and scheduled for arraignment March 11 in Laughlin Justice Court on two charges of reckless driving causing death, a court clerk said. Each charge carries a possible sentence of probation or one to six years in state prison.

NEW YORK

BofA, CEO charged over Merrill deal

NEW YORK — The New York Attorney General’s office said Thursday it filed civil charges against Bank of America and its former CEO Ken Lewis, saying the bank misled investors about Merrill Lynch before it acquired the Wall Street bank in early 2009.

Civil charges were also being filed against Joe Price, the bank’s former chief financial officer.

At the same time Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office was filing its civil charges, the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a settlement to resolve separate federal charges it brought against Bank of America over similar issues. It is the second time the SEC and Bank of America have tried to settle the case.

Bank of America has been accused of failing to properly disclose losses at Merrill and bonuses paid to investment bank employees before the deal closed. Mr. Cuomo called Bank of America’s actions “egregious and reprehensible” in deceiving not only shareholders, but also the federal government.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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