- - Monday, May 23, 2011

CONNECTICUT

Newspaper wants plagiarism suit dismissed

HARTFORD — The Hartford Courant is asking a federal judge to dismiss a $7.5 million plagiarism lawsuit filed by a competing newspaper, saying no copyright laws were broken.

Lawyers for the Courant filed a motion to dismiss the Journal Inquirer’s lawsuit on May 4, nearly two years after Courant CEO and Publisher Richard Graziano acknowledged publicly that the newspaper had unintentionally plagiarized competitors.

The Journal Inquirer, based about 10 miles east of Hartford in Manchester, first filed the lawsuit in state court in 2009, but withdrew it for technical reasons. The paper refiled it in federal court in February, claiming the Courant plagiarized at least 10 Journal Inquirer stories in violation of copyright laws.

In court papers, the Courant said “the only similarities between the parties’ works relate to inclusion of the same public domain facts” and therefore, there was no copyright infringement.

Journal Inquirer attorney Richard Weinstein disagreed, saying the stories were similar enough to warrant legal action. An attorney for the Courant declined to comment.

FLORIDA

Prosecutor: Cleric dedicated to Taliban

MIAMI — Despite a frail and pious appearance, a South Florida Muslim cleric was a dedicated financier of the violent Pakistani Taliban who disliked the “wretched” U.S. and sought the overthrow of Pakistan’s government, a federal prosecutor said in court Monday.

Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, directed how thousands of dollars were to be distributed to militant fighters “down to the dollar” and maintained at least three bank accounts in Pakistan to accept the funds, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley. More than $200,000 has been deposited in those accounts since 2005, he added, although not all the money is linked to terrorism.

Mr. Shipley laid out more details of the case against Mr. Khan; his sons Izhar Khan, 24, and Irfan Khan, 37; and three other suspects at a bail hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber ordered Hafiz Khan and Izhar Khan held without bail, agreeing with prosecutors that both present a danger to the community and are at risk of fleeing the country.

“He is extremely active and has been extremely active in Taliban matters,” Judge Garber said of the elder Mr. Khan. The government’s evidence, Judge Garber added, shows that “his goal was to kill Americans.”

Irfan Khan was arrested in Los Angeles and also is being held without bail pending his return to Miami. The other three people named in the four-count terrorism-support indictment, including two more Khan family members, are in Pakistan. Each charge carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

NEW JERSEY

Not-guilty plea entered in webcam case

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s gay-sex encounter pleaded not guilty Monday to 15 charges including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering.

It was the first court appearance for Dharun Ravi, 19, in the case of Tyler Clementi, a fellow Rutgers freshman who killed himself days after the purported spying. His death sparked a national furor about anti-gay bullying.

Mr. Ravi, of Plainsboro, was silent throughout the court appearance, which lasted less than 10 minutes. Mr. Clementi’s parents and brother sat in the back of the courtroom for the brief hearing.

Mr. Ravi wore a dark suit and appeared to bite his lower lip as a chorus of cameras clicked his photo. Lawyer Steven Altman entered a not-guilty plea for his client and waived having the indictment against him read in court.

Mr. Clementi, 18, killed himself Sept. 22 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

NEVADA

Plan in works for 500-foot wheel

LAS VEGAS — A developer is rolling out plans to build a 500-foot viewing wheel on the Las Vegas Strip that would be higher than the London Eye and give visitors an unparalleled view of Sin City.

Developer Howard Bulloch of Compass Investments released details of the project Monday to reporters, local lawmakers and business leaders at the site across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.

Mr. Bulloch wants the Skyvue Las Vegas Super Wheel to open in 2013 as part of a $100 million privately funded project also including a roller coaster and 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.

A rendering of the Ferris-style wheel shows its rotation perpendicular to the Strip. That means unobstructed views of the city’s casino row from the 40 gondolas.

NEW YORK

Man pleads guilty in Internet poker case

NEW YORK — A Chicago man pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Monday, admitting that he helped Internet poker companies find banks to process millions of dollars in gambling proceeds even though he knew it was illegal.

Bradley Franzen, 41, also signed a cooperation agreement, agreeing to testify if necessary at any trial to result from a government prosecution that has already caused the three largest online poker companies to shut down their U.S. operations.

Franzen was one of 11 people charged last month in the probe. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, accepting funds in connection with illegal gambling and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charges carry a potential prison term of up to 30 years but the plea agreement calls for prosecutors to recommend leniency at an Aug. 26 sentencing if Franzen cooperates fully.

PENNSYLVANIA

Muslim immigrants appeal terrorism convictions

PHILADELPHIA — Five Muslim immigrants convicted of plotting a deadly strike at a New Jersey military base will challenge warrantless seizures enabled by the 2001 Patriot Act as their attorneys appeal their convictions Monday.

The defense argues that dubious FBI informants entrapped the young men and that their taped discussions amounted to little more than a religious debate about jihad, or holy war.

They will also challenge the constitutionality of a Patriot Act provision used to seize video the defendants had brought to a Circuit City store for reformatting. The footage shows them firing assault weapons and screaming about jihad.

A federal jury in Camden, N.J., convicted the men — Mohamad Shnewer, Serdar Tatar, and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka — in December 2008 of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel at Fort Dix. All but Tatar are serving life terms.

Prosecutors charged that the Philadelphia-area immigrants, inspired by al Qaeda, had taken training trips to the Pocono Mountains and scouted out Fort Dix, an Army base in New Jersey used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq, and other sites.

From wire dispatches and staff reports