- - Sunday, February 20, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Jackson’s estate earned $310 million

LOS ANGELES | Court documents show Michael Jackson’s estate has earned more than $310 million since the singer’s death, but is still dealing with a series of lawsuits and financial disputes.

According to a filing in the singer’s probate case, Jackson died with more than $400 million in debt.

The filing reported the income, and more than $159 million in spending, for the period between Jackson’s death in June 2009 and December 2010.

The estate’s filing states it is negotiating settlements for several lawsuits, including disputes over Jackson’s “Thriller” album.

Estate administrators have restructured much of Jackson’s debt and negotiated deals for video games, new albums and a movie using rehearsal footage from Jackson’s last concert.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Former council staffer reaches plea deal

The former chief of staff for D.C. Council member Jim Graham has pleaded guilty to lesser charges in a bribery case.

Ted Loza pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to two counts of accepting an illegal gratuity and one count of making a false statement.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he’s likely to receive between eight and 14 months in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Sentencing is set for May 12.

Loza, 45, was charged in 2009 with taking bribes and free trips in exchange for pushing legislation that would benefit some taxicab businesses.

Mr. Graham has denied any wrongdoing.

He said in a statement that he’s happy for Loza that the case has been resolved and notes that Loza did not admit to bribery or conspiracy.

KENTUCKY

Woman convicted in Pitino case sentenced

LOUISVILLE | The woman convicted of threatening to reveal a sexual tryst with basketball coach Rick Pitino unless he paid her millions in cash, luxury cars and a house was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in prison.

Karen Cunagin Sypher cried intermittently and gave a short, incoherent statement during Friday’s hearing before being sentenced to 87 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III. He also ordered two years of supervised release after she serves her prison term.

A jury convicted Sypher in August of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliation against a witness. The charges carried a maximum sentence of 26 years, but federal sentencing guidelines called for a shorter term.

NEW YORK

Copter frees cadets off 18-inch ledge

WEST POINT | A daring New York Police Department helicopter rescue in darkness and dangerous winds has safely delivered two West Point cadets from an 18-inch-wide ledge where they were stranded on a cliff 500 feet above the ground.

Authorities say the 20-year-old men were rescued early Sunday from a nearly vertical rock formation after they became trapped for more than eight hours while rappelling down a West Point mountainside.

They say the police helicopter steadied itself against winds above 30 mph as it hovered about 60 to 80 feet above the men. The chopper’s blades were just 20 feet from the rocks.

Aviation unit Capt. James Coan says the men were elated to be rescued at 2 a.m. He says they were treated for hypothermia but were in good condition.

OHIO

State runs out of energy grants

COLUMBUS | An increase in demand for grants to fund solar panels and advanced energy projects in Ohio, along with a shortage of funding, has prompted the state to stop taking requests and left many applicants without thousands of dollars they hoped or expected to get.

The Department of Development stopped taking grant requests for the Advanced Energy Fund in November as money ran out, the Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday. The program awarded $15.6 million in grants for 161 solar-panel and wind-turbine projects from July to November, according to records.

More than 200 homeowners and businesses filed grant requests before the cutoff, only to find out they wouldn’t get funds from the program this year, according to the newspaper.

A 9-cent fee on most residents’ monthly electricity bills paid for the grants, but the fee expired last year and was not reauthorized. The Legislature enacted the fee in 1999, beginning the program with low-interest loans offered to homeowners and businesses. It became a grant program in mid-2006. Since then, it has paid out more than $49 million.

State Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from Cleveland, sponsored a bill to extend the fee, but the bill died in the Legislature.

It’s clear the cutoff has upset people, but the state doesn’t have the money to fund the grants, said Chad Smith, interim energy resources director for the Department of Development.

PENNSYLVANIA

Church puts priest on leave over abuse

PHILADELPHIA | A former top Roman Catholic church official in Philadelphia has been placed on administrative leave following charges of endangering children in connection with sexual abuse by priests.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said Sunday that parishioners at St. Joseph parish in Downingtown were informed in weekend Masses that Monsignor William Lynn was placed on administrative leave Friday.

Father Lynn was secretary of the clergy and a top archdiocese official from 1992 to 2004. He was accused in a scathing grand jury report of putting pedophiles in posts where they had contact with youngsters.

Felony endangering charges were filed earlier this month, and Father Lynn was also named in a civil lawsuit last week. The priest’s attorney has said that his client doesn’t concede that he knew he was putting children at risk

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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