American Scene: Detective says man hid phone in prosthetic leg

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UNIONTOWN — A county detective says a man serving six months in a southwestern Pennsylvania county jail illegally hid a cellphone and charger in his prosthetic leg.

Christopher Greer, 27, faces a preliminary hearing May 22 on a contraband charge filed last week by a Fayette County detective.

Greer was sentenced to jail after he was convicted in March of driving with a suspended license.

PENNSYLVANIA

April storm dumps rain, snow along East Coast

PHILADELPHIA — Schools in western Pennsylvania are closing in the face of an unusual late-April snowstorm that’s chugging through the Northeast, threatening to bring high winds and up to a foot of snow in some places.

The slow-moving coastal storm delivered much-needed rain to the parched region over the weekend, from Virginia to New England.

The rain is turning into snow for some in Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

The nor’easter has dumped up to 6 inches of snow on New York state’s eastern Lake Ontario region, and the Buffalo area could get 5 to 9 inches.

CALIFORNIA

Abolishing death penalty to be on November ballot

SAN FRANCISCO — A measure to abolish California’s death penalty qualified for the November ballot on Monday.

If it passes, the 725 California inmates now on death row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It would also make life without parole the harshest penalty prosecutors can seek.

Backers of the measure say abolishing the death penalty will save the state millions of dollars through layoffs of prosecutors and defense attorneys who handle death penalty cases, as well as savings from not having to maintain the nation’s largest death row at San Quentin prison.

CALIFORNIA

College set to resume classes after rampage

OAKLAND — With the horrors of a deadly shooting rampage still a fresh memory, some students at a California Christian college Monday will resume attending classes in a building where seven people were killed earlier this month.

Oakland’s Oikos University - still draped with wreaths, flower bouquets and a memorial banner - was scheduled to restart classes just weeks after police said a former nursing student, One L. Goh, fatally shot six students and a receptionist.

The small school located in an industrial area of the city has been busy preparing to resume normal operations by replacing carpet and remove the blood and bullet scars from that day.

Mr. Goh, a 43-year-old South Korea native who had become a U.S. citizen, has been charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

MICHIGAN

Detroit mayor’s plan would cut 2,500 jobs

DETROIT — Mayor Dave Bing on Monday laid out a budget proposal that would cut more than 2,500 jobs - nearly a quarter of the city’s workforce - and shave $250 million in annual expenses after the financially struggling city agreed to state oversight that is aimed at fixing a deficit and long-term debt.

The layoffs would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts Mr. Bing sought earlier. The financially strapped city now has about 10,800 employees and an overall budget of about $2.5 billion.

CONNECTICUT

Man questioned in art heist faces charges

HARTFORD — A reputed Connecticut mobster suspected of having information related to the largest art theft in history was arraigned Monday on weapons charges.

Robert V. Gentile, 75, leaned on a cane as he slowly rose before a judge in federal court in Hartford to plead not guilty to three charges.

Federal agents said they seized three revolvers, numerous rounds of ammunition and homemade silencers in a search of Mr. Gentile’s Manchester home Feb. 10.

Mr. Gentile was convicted of larceny in 1996. Convicted felons may not possess firearms or ammunition that have been transported across state lines or from overseas. Federal law also prohibits possession of a silencer unless it has been registered.

Each of the three charges carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Mr. Gentile has been detained since his February arrest on a charge of selling painkillers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John H. Durham said in federal court in Hartford last month that the FBI thinks Mr. Gentile “had some involvement in connection with stolen property” related to the theft of masterworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.

Mr. Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, said his client had nothing to do with the art theft. He said after the arraignment that prosecutors are “piling on” with the gun charges.

MICHIGAN

Twins born after mom on respirator for month

GRAND RAPIDS — A western Michigan hospital said a woman who was considered dead from brain aneurysms was kept on a respirator for a month to allow the birth of twin boys.

The boys were born by cesarean section at 25 weeks on April 5. A spokesman for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids said Monday that Nicholas and Alexander are in critical condition.

Spokesman Bruce Rossman said their mother, Christine Bolden, was considered brain dead March 6. But at the request of family, doctors kept the 26-year-old Muskegon woman on a respirator until it was time to remove the boys.

Mr. Rossman said the case was reviewed by an ethics committee at the hospital. He said it “wasn’t that difficult.”

Mr. Rossman said the babies are on ventilators and getting around-the-clock care.

TENNESSEE

Cops: Man with smuggling record abandoned plane

NASHVILLE — Police say it was a once-prominent Nashville businessman with a drug-smuggling conviction who belly-landed a small vintage plane in the middle of the night last weekend at a closed airport and then left it.

The twin-engine plane was discovered Saturday morning on the grass at the closed Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville.

Russell Brothers, 74, of Burns, Tenn., told police that the plane’s two-way radio was not working and that he was forced to down the aircraft after his landing gear failed.

Mr. Brothers, who was flying from Miami to Dickson, Tenn., was convicted of drug smuggling 24 years ago.

A jury in Florida’s Broward County convicted Mr. Brothers of drug trafficking and racketeering in 1988 for his role in an international drug-smuggling ring that flew cocaine from Colombia into Miami, West Palm Beach and Pompano Beach. He piloted the planes that carried the cocaine.

Mr. Brothers could not immediately be reached for comment.

He told the Tennessean newspaper that he was not carrying drugs on the plane that he left at the closed airpark.

Nashville police said Mr. Brothers spoke with investigators by phone and told them that it was he who downed the 1961 Beechcraft twin-engine airplane at the closed airfield. He chose Cornelia Fort because he was familiar with the old airport.

FLORIDA

Man hunting hogs says he accidentally shot girlfriend

BUNNELL — Authorities say a woman has been hospitalized after her boyfriend accidentally shot her in the legs during a hog-hunting trip in north Florida.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said Steven Egan was in a tent with Lisa Simmons when he saw a hog nearby and shot at it Saturday evening. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Mr. Egan told authorities he thought he hit the hog and left the tent to search for it. The sheriff’s statement said he heard a noise, thought it was the hog and fired in that direction.

Deputies said Ms. Simmons was hit in both legs by a bullet and was in serious condition after surgery. Mr. Egan told authorities he didn’t know Ms. Simmons had left the tent and was in the woods.

Both are 52.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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