- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2011

ALABAMA

No convictions in state gambling trial

MONTGOMERY | Jurors have acquitted or failed to reach a verdict on all the charges against the nine defendants in Alabama’s gambling trial.

VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor was found not guilty of one count of bribery and two counts of honest services fraud. The jury failed to reach a verdict on his other charges, and a mistrial was declared on them.

The defendants were charged with using millions in campaign contribution and other money to buy and sell votes for pro-gambling legislation. They were charged in a 37-count indictment, with most counts listing multiple defendants.

The federal investigation grew out of three Republican legislators telling the FBI that they had been offered campaign contributions if they would support legislation designed to keep electronic bingo games operating in Alabama.

CALIFORNIA

Coast Guard: Fighter jet crew rescued in waters

SAN DIEGO | Two Marines who ejected from their crashing jet fighter spent more than four hours in the Pacific Ocean before they were plucked from the water early Thursday.

The men were in serious but stable condition at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. Their names and details of their injuries were not released.

The two were aboard an F/A-18 Hornet that went down while flying with another jet that reported it missing around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday and noted debris in the water.

The Navy and U.S. Coast Guard began an air and sea search that included dropping a flare to illuminate the area.

Before dawn Thursday, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Edisto heard the Marines yelling for help and blowing a rescue whistle about 35 miles off the coast and about 85 miles southwest of San Diego.

A helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer, who plucked the Marines from the water about 2:30 a.m., Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry G. Dunphy said.

It was unclear what survival gear the Marines might have had, and what conditions they faced in the water. The jet was not recovered.

FLORIDA

Agency: Casey Anthony failed to protect Caylee

ORLANDO | A report by Florida’s child welfare agency says Casey Anthony failed to protect her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, which ultimately resulted in the child’s death. But Miss Anthony will not face additional charges as a result of Thursday’s report.

The Department of Children and Families closed out its investigations of Caylee’s death, noting Miss Anthony failed to protect Caylee by not reporting her disappearance in 2008 for more than a month and that her failure interfered with the law enforcement investigation and efforts to find the child.

The agency also concluded that Caylee died as a result of abuse or neglect, but the report said the agency was unable to substantiate that the toddler had died from asphyxiation.

“The inactions by the mother were clearly failure to protect. As the child was found dead, obviously the failure to protect led to the death,” DCF spokesman Joe Follick said.

A jury last month acquitted Miss Anthony in Caylee’s death. She was released from jail and has dropped from public sight. A judge last week ordered her to return to Florida to serve probation on unrelated check fraud charges, but her lawyers appealed and another judge is expected to rule this week whether Miss Anthony must follow that order.

The child welfare agency’s investigation was independent of the criminal investigation and the agency made no determination of who killed Caylee.

MASSACHUSETTS

Bulger girlfriend indicted for helping him

BOSTON | The longtime girlfriend of reputed Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger has been indicted for allegedly helping him hide during his 16 years on the run.

Catherine Greig has been held since she and Mr. Bulger were captured in June in Santa Monica, Calif.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors formally charged Miss Greig with conspiracy to harbor and conceal a fugitive.

Mr. Bulger is charged with participating in 19 murders while he was leader of the Winter Hill gang and also an FBI informant. He has pleaded not guilty.

Miss Greig’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, argued last month that she didn’t know the extent of Mr. Bulger’s crimes when she left with him. He says she should be released on bail with electronic monitoring. Miss Greig has agreed to be held while Mr. Reddington gathers information to support the bail request.

NEW YORK

Statue of Liberty interior to close for renovation

NEW YORK | The Statue of Liberty will undergo a yearlong safety overhaul, temporarily closing its interior to visitors at the end of October on the 125th anniversary of its dedication.

Tourists will still be able to visit Lady Liberty’s home on Liberty Island, and views of the statue in New York Harbor will be largely unobstructed during the $27.25 million renovation, Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar said.

The monument’s stairs, elevators and electrical and mechanical systems will be modernized to improve safety and widen access, bringing “a 19th century icon into the 21st century,” Mr. Salazar said.

Tegan Firth, a spokeswoman for Statue Cruises, which operates the ferry services to Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island, said she expects most visitors to the monument will be unaffected as the majority do not go inside the statue.

“For us, it’s business as usual,” she said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Each day a maximum of 2,500 visitors are permitted inside the statue’s base and pedestal. Another 240 visitors are allowed to climb inside up to the crown. But on a busy summer day some 18,000 people visit the island, she said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Judge sentenced in ‘kids for cash’ case

SCRANTON | A northeastern Pennsylvania judge was ordered Thursday to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss out thousands of juvenile convictions and left lasting scars on the children who appeared in his courtroom and their hapless families.

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for taking a $1 million bribe from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids for cash.”

Ciavarella, who denied locking up youths for money, had no reaction as the sentence was announced. From the gallery, which was crowded with family members of some of the children he incarcerated, someone shouted “Woo hoo!”

In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a “reasonable” sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he’d already been punished enough.

TENNESSEE

Teen charged with murdering principal

MEMPHIS | A 17-year-old student charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a Christian school principal told investigators he had planned to stab the woman on the third day of classes, when he knew he’d be alone with her in a classroom, police said Thursday.

Eduardo Marmolejo was held without bond and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation by a Juvenile Court judge during a hearing Thursday. State law allows police to release the names of juveniles charged with first-degree murder.

Mr. Marmolejo has been charged with planning the killing of Suzette York, 49, for months. Miss York’s body was found by a teacher in a classroom on Wednesday at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school of fewer than 100 students.

The thin teenager with short brown hair appeared before Judge Sheldon McCall, wearing a bright orange jail jumpsuit. Mr. Marmolejo was joined by his parents, who both wore black shirts and bluejeans.

Prosecutor Chris Lareau said the killing was premeditated and asked Judge McCall to detain Mr. Marmolejo. Both Mr. Lareau and the two defense attorneys appointed by the court asked for mental evaluations of the teenager.

The judge appointed the two attorneys after Mr. Marmolejo’s mother said the private lawyer she had hired did not make it to the hearing.