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American Scene

- - Monday, October 24, 2011

CONNECTICUT

Casinos' security costs cut by state

HARTFORD — Connecticut has yielded to requests from American Indian tribes seeking a larger law enforcement role at two of the country's largest casinos, slashing the amount the resorts will have to pay the state back for the services of state police troopers and other security agents, officials said Monday.

The assessments for state police, liquor control agents and auditors at the casinos have been reduced by a combined total of about $4.5 million, Colleen Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dan Malloy, told the Associated Press. The assessments for the 2010-11 fiscal year were $7.3 million for the Foxwoods Resort Casino and $6.8 million for Mohegan Sun.

Ms. Flanagan said the cut reflects a commitment on the part of the state to shift some responsibilities to the tribes, which operate the casinos on sovereign land in rural southeastern Connecticut. She said both sides are still working out the details.

FLORIDA

State's new welfare drug-testing law blocked

ORLANDO — A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida's new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving the benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Judge Mary Scriven's ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims the law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree but refused to take the test.

Nearly 1,600 applicants have refused to take the test since testing began in mid-July, but they aren't required to say why. Thirty-two applicants failed the test and more than 7,000 have passed, according to the Department of Children and Families. The majority of positives were for marijuana.

Supporters say applicants skipped the test because they knew they would have tested positive for drugs. Applicants must pay $25 to $35 for the test and are reimbursed by the state if they pass. It's unclear if the state has saved money.

MAINE

Police seek ID of body found in freezer

LEWISTON — A man who died this month at age 80 nearly took a secret to his grave - a secret that was discovered only after his family went through his belongings in a storage unit.

Inside an unplugged freezer, they found a set of human remains that investigators believe may be those of the man's girlfriend, who disappeared in 1983, when she was 29. Now investigators are trying to confirm the identity of the female body, the cause of death and who may have been involved.

State police detectives were awaiting results of an autopsy. DNA tests may be needed to confirm whether the body was that of Kitty Wardwell, who was last seen with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Frank Julian.

The storage unit was rented in 1992 by Julian, who died Oct. 1. In 1983, he occasionally lived with Wardwell 100 miles away in Holden.

Julian told police in New Hampshire that he last saw Wardwell after an argument that June, when he dropped her off at a motel in Salem, N.H., before returning to Maine, police said. She was reported missing the following month by a close friend.

NORTH CAROLINA

2 teens in custody in school shooting

FAYETTEVILLE — Authorities say two teenagers were taken into custody Monday night in the shooting of a 15-year-old North Carolina student who was wounded in the neck with what appeared to be a small-caliber bullet during a lunch period outside her high school.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl Butler said at a news conference Monday night that the two suspects were students at Cape Fear High School. He said they were questioned and would be charged. He said the weapon used and bullet casings were recovered.

The sheriff also said both teens participated in the shooting.

Sheriff Butler said Catilyn Abercrombie was in stable condition after surgery.

UTAH

Mother pleads guilty in virginity-sale case

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah woman accused of trying to sell her 13-year-old daughter's virginity has pleaded guilty to forcing the girl to model for men in her underwear.

The 33-year-old woman made the plea Monday in Salt Lake City to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

She also faced two counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, but prosecutors dropped those charges in exchange for her plea. She faces up to 30 years in prison at sentencing Dec. 5.

Authorities say she had her daughter model in underwear for a man to whom she was offering to sell the girl's virginity for $10,000. She also took cellphone pictures of the girl and sent them to another man.

The Associated Press isn't naming her to avoid identifying her daughter.

From wire dispatches and staff reports