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American Scene: ‘Blackwater’ company settles arms case
Question of the Day
RALEIGH — The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.
Documents unsealed Tuesday in a U.S. district court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.
The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
Federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents said the agreement settles a long and complex case against the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2 die, 15 hurt in apartment building fire
AURORA — Two people were killed and 15 injured in a fire that engulfed an apartment building in the Denver suburb of Aurora, forcing some residents to jump from the four-story building as neighbors rushed to help.
After the fire broke out Monday night, a man dropped a boy, thought to be about 2, from the fourth floor into the arms of Oterian Scott, the Denver Post reported. The man then jumped into a canopy that neighbors moved next to the building.
Mr. Scott, 25, said he and a friend held up an extension ladder so it would reach a woman on the fourth floor. He said she managed to climb down the wobbly ladder.
Fire Capt. Allen Robnett said numerous people were rescued with ladders.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. Firefighters were looking into a witness report that someone with a gas can left the building, Capt. Robnett said.
The apartment building is near the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, where some victims of last month’s Aurora theater shooting were taken and where suspect James Holmes studied. It’s also about a block away from Mr. Holmes’ apartment, but Capt. Robnett said there’s nothing to indicate a connection with the shooting.
Court: Cheeringis not a sport
HARTFORD — A federal appeals court has ruled that colleges cannot count competitive cheerleading as a sport when trying to comply with gender-equity requirements, upholding a U.S. district court decision against Quinnipiac University.
In a decision released Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that competitive cheerleading does not yet meet the standards of a varsity sport under Title IX, the 1972 federal law that mandates equal opportunities for men and women in education and athletics.
The ruling came on an appeal filed by Quinnipiac, a school with about 8,000 students in Hamden that had been sued successfully by its volleyball coach after it tried to eliminate the women’s volleyball program in favor of competitive cheering.
“Like the district court, we acknowledge record evidence showing that competitive cheerleading can be physically challenging, requiring competitors to possess ‘strength, agility, and grace,’” the court wrote. “Similarly, we do not foreclose the possibility that the activity, with better organization and defined rules, might someday warrant recognition as a varsity sport. But, like the district court, we conclude that the record evidence shows that ‘that time has not yet arrived.’”
The appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill, who found in 2010 that competitive cheerleading did not have the organization, post-season structure or standardized rules required to be considered a varsity sport.
Tribal company to manage Resorts casino
ATLANTIC CITY — A tribal gambling company has taken over the operations of Resorts Casino Hotel, New Jersey’s oldest gambling hall.
The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority on Tuesday announced the management agreement with Resorts, which has been in flux. The move represents a major push for the Connecticut-based firm to get into a long-established gambling market.
“The timing is right,” MTGA CEO Mitchell Etess said. “We have long looked at the Atlantic City market as an excellent opportunity.”
Casino industry consultant James Karmel said Mohegan may be seeking to become one of the major players in Atlantic City, where casinos have struggled for years.
“You’re probably looking at consolidation,” he said. And Mohegan, which runs casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, could become one of a handful of firms to run the city’s gambling businesses, he said.
Resorts opened in 1978 as the first place to gamble legally in the U.S. outside of Nevada.
Girl found clinging to floating body in lake
CARMEL — Boaters rescued a 6-year-old girl from a small reservoir north of New York City late Monday afternoon after finding her clinging to the floating corpse of a family friend who had taken her to the pretty lake to cool off.
Investigators were still trying to piece together exactly what happened to the child and her caregiver, identified by authorities as Pamela Kaner, 59, of Brewster.
No swimming or wading is allowed in Lake Gleneida, which is part of New York City’s water supply system, but the girl told police that Ms. Kaner brought her into the water and was holding her before something went wrong.
An autopsy is planned to see if Ms. Kaner drowned or suffered some other medical emergency.
A group of people in a rowboat heard the girl crying for help around 5 p.m. and found her holding on to Ms. Kaner’s body, floating some distance from shore, Carmel Police Chief Michael R. Johnson said. The lake is about 730 yards across at its widest point — about 14 times the width of an American football field.
Commuter train on pace for deadliest year
LOS ANGELES — A Southern California commuter train line is on pace to have the deadliest year in its 22-year history.
The Los Angeles Times reported that six people have been struck and killed by Los Angeles County Blue Line trains this year, including four who committed suicide.
A record 10 people died in 1999.
This year’s deaths were among 22 accidents reported along the 22-mile line from Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. The line handles 26 million riders a year and is one of the busiest light rails in the nation.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority member Zev Yaroslavsky said the number of suicides is a record. He also said the line could see a record number of deaths by year’s end, and he’s urging an investigation to help reduce the toll.
Man in wife’s shootingconfused about charge
AKRON — A man suspected of the mercy killing of his wife, who was shot in a hospital’s intensive care unit, seemed perplexed at the charge when he stood before a judge Tuesday, asking whether his wife was indeed dead.
John Wise, 66, with a white beard down to his chest and dressed in a red-and-white striped jail outfit, appeared before an Akron municipal court judge via video from jail on an aggravated attempted murder charge. His bond was set at $1 million.
The judge delayed his formal arraignment until Wednesday to give Mr. Wise time to get an attorney.
Mr. Wise, who lived with his wife of 45 years in Massillon, is charged with shooting her Saturday at her bedside in the ICU unit of Akron General Medical Center. She died the next morning.
The attempted murder charge against him is expected to be upgraded after an autopsy, expected to occur by Wednesday.
But Mr. Wise apparently was confused about the attempted murder charge Tuesday, asking, “Is she not dead?”
Man pleads not guiltyin father’s fake death plot
HEMPSTEAD — A New York man accused of helping his father try to fake his own death by falsely reporting that the elder man had disappeared while going for a swim was arraigned Tuesday on conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and other charges.
Jonathan Roth, 22, pleaded not guilty in a Long Island courtroom, where bond was set at $10,000. His girlfriend told reporters it was unlikely the unemployed warehouse worker would be able to post the bond.
Mr. Roth called police on July 28 to report that his father had gone swimming at New York’s Jones Beach and disappeared.
Investigators wrote in court papers that Mr. Roth “was fully aware that his father never walked into the water and had in fact driven off in his own personal vehicle.” The criminal complaint alleges Mr. Roth and his father, Raymond, conspired to get more than $50,000 in life insurance money by having Jonathan Roth try to file a claim on July 31.
Days after his disappearance, Raymond Roth was stopped going 90 mph and given a speeding ticket in Santee, S.C. Raymond Roth said he was returning to New York, and the officer let him proceed north.
Jonathan Roth was arrested at the Nassau County district attorney’s office on Monday. Other charges include insurance fraud and filing a false report. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
He contends he had nothing to do with the actions of his 47-year-old father, who has yet to be located.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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