- - Sunday, July 3, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Marines accused of sham marriages for money

CAMP PENDLETON — Military officials are charging three California-based Marine corporals with fraud and larceny for entering in a pair of sham marriages to collect housing funding, officials said.

The military says that a lesbian couple — one a Marine, the other a civilian — decided to live together off-base and wanted to collect the $1,200 housing benefit granted to married Marines.


The female Marine found a male Marine willing to get married, allowing them to collect the housing benefit, and the civilian woman also eventually married a Marine and collected funds, 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, said Saturday.

The female Marine, Cpl. Ashley Vice, told San Diego’s KGTV-TV that she and her partner, Jaime Murphy, were forced to enter sham marriages because the military doesn’t provide allowances for unmarried couples and they couldn’t afford to live off-base without the extra money.

“It doesn’t matter what their sexual preferences are, if they’re violating the law and making fraudulent use of government money, they will be held accountable,” 1st Lt. Dooley said.

NEW MEXICO

Los Alamos residents allowed to return home

LOS ALAMOS — A smattering of summer rain gave a boost to firefighters battling a huge forest fire near Los Alamos, giving authorities enough confidence to allow about 12,000 people to return home for the first time in nearly a week.

Residents rolled into town Sunday morning, honking their horns and waving to firefighters as the word got out that the roadblocks were lifted and the narrow two-lane highway cut into the side of a mesa leading to Los Alamos was open. They had fled en masse Monday as the fast-moving fire approached the city and its nuclear laboratory.

“Thank, you! Thank, You! Thank, you!,” yelled Amy Riehl, an assistant manager at the Smith’s grocery store as she arrived in Los Alamos to help keep the store open for returning residents.

The town was last evacuated because of the 2000 Cerro Grande fire. That time, residents returned to a town that had lost 200 homes, several businesses and had to cope with damaged utilities and other county enterprises. This time around, residents were returning to a town that is completely intact, although the fire destroyed 63 homes west of town.

Although the threat to Los Alamos and the nation’s premier nuclear research lab had passed, the mammoth wildfire raging in northern New Mexico was still threatening sacred sites of American Indian tribes.

NEW YORK

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