- - Thursday, December 20, 2012

PENNSYLVANIA

PHILADELPHIA — More than nine months after they were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen, twin girls made their public debut Thursday at the hospital where they were separated.

Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker, clad in animal-striped shirts and flowered headbands, were introduced during a news conference at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Both girls still have nasal tubes but appeared rosy-cheeked and alert as they were held by their parents, Shellie and Greg Tucker, of Adams, N.Y., about 300 miles north of Philadelphia near Lake Ontario.

Allison, described by doctors and her parents as the smaller but feistier twin, was discharged from the hospital Monday. Her sister Amelia, who’s larger and more reserved, needs a little more recovery time and will remain in the hospital into the new year.

“We totally expect them to have full, independent lives,” said pediatric surgeon Dr. Holly Hedrick, who led a 40-member medical team in the complex seven-hour operation on Nov. 7.

CALIFORNIA

Former Marine leaves post as school guard

HUGHSON — A former Marine applauded for voluntarily showing up to guard a central California elementary school apparently misrepresented his service history.

Craig Pusley showed up for a second day of guard duty Thursday at Hughson Elementary School but departed midmorning as questions arose about his military background.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pusley told the Modesto Bee he was a sergeant in the Marine Reserves and had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Marines spokesman Capt. Gregory A. Wolf said Mr. Pusley never served overseas and was discharged in 2008 as a private after serving less than a year. He also is not in the reserves.

Mr. Pusley did not respond to calls for comment

MASSACHUSETTS

Former chemist enters plea in tampering case

BOSTON — The former chemist at the center of a drug-testing scandal at a now-closed Massachusetts lab has pleaded not guilty to charges including perjury and tampering with evidence.

Annie Dookhan was arraigned Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court. Neither she nor her attorney commented after the proceeding.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley contends that Ms. Dookhan fabricated test results and tampered with drug evidence in testing substances for criminal cases. Judges have released about 200 defendants from prison in the past few months and put their cases on hold. The state also is reviewing thousands of cases possibly affected by Ms. Dookhan’s work.

Ms. Dookhan was indicted this week on numerous counts. First arrested in September, she remains free on bail and has a curfew. The judge Thursday extended the hour to 10 p.m.

LOUISIANA

Post-Katrina hospitalin sight for Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS | New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says construction is about to start on a $130 million hospital in eastern New Orleans. The area has been without a hospital since Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city in August 2005.

Mr. Landrieu said in October that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had paved the way for construction by agreeing to insure a $97.6 million loan for the hospital.

His office says the project will revitalize that area’s economy while restoring full-service health care to residents in eastern New Orleans.

Mr. Landrieu, other city officials and Archbishop Gregory Aymond had planned to attend a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon at the site. However, the mayor’s office announced late in the morning that the ceremony would be postponed until after the holidays.

WASHINGTON

Officials to assess dock washed up on shore

FORKS — Tsunami debris specialists are setting out to examine a dock that washed ashore on a remote beach in Washington.

David Workman, a spokesman for the state Marine Debris Task Force, said the team left Thursday to try to confirm the dock drifted across the Pacific after the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.

It also will look for any invasive species that may be carried by the debris.

The Coast Guard spotted the dock Tuesday on a wilderness beach in Olympic National Park. Stormy weather has contributed to trouble reaching it.

Officials say it appears to be similar to a Japanese dock that washed ashore in June in Newport, Ore. That debris was cut up and removed.

The team represents federal, state and tribal agencies.

NORTH CAROLINA

Civil rights complaint filed against county sheriff

RALEIGH — The Justice Department has filed a civil rights complaint against a North Carolina sheriff over what it says is his systematic racial profiling of Hispanics.

The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court follows a two-year investigation during which federal authorities concluded Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson and his deputies made unwarranted arrests with the goal of maximizing deportations.

Federal officials say Sheriff Johnson violated the constitutional rights of numerous U.S. citizens by illegally targeting and detaining Hispanics without probable cause. The complaint also alleges Sheriff Johnson sought to obstruct the federal investigation by withholding documents and falsifying records.

Sheriff Johnson is a Republican first elected in 2002. He says the probe is politically motivated. Sheriff Johnson’s department has already been suspended from a program to screen the immigration status of jail inmates.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports