- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002


Insurance executive kills two co-workers, self

NEW YORK An insurance executive called two co-workers into his office near Times Square yesterday, fatally shot them and then killed himself, authorities say.

The motive was not immediately clear, but a police source told Associated Press that the gunman, who was in his 50s, had been romantically involved with one of the victims, a woman in her 30s.

The third victim was a man, also in his 30s. The names of the dead were not immediately released.

The gunman, a vice president in the insurance company's fraud investigations unit, was formerly an FBI agent in New Jersey, according to a federal law enforcement source.


Acid leak keeps residents from homes

KNOXVILLE About 3,000 people remained out of their homes in eastern Tennessee yesterday after a freight train derailment that let loose waves of sulfuric acid gas.

"There is a possibility that some people may return to their homes tonight, but it could go on until tomorrow. It depends on how the clean-up operation goes," said Alan Lawson, deputy director of the Knoxville-Knox County Emergency Management Agency.

He said railroad workers were trying to untangle the wreckage to reach the leaking tank car. The car was carrying liquid sulfuric acid, which was slowly leaking, turning into gas as it escaped.

The affected area was about 20 miles southwest of Knoxville, where about two dozen cars of a Norfolk Southern Corp. train derailed Sunday.


Trooper files suit over harassment

MONTGOMERY An Alabama state trooper has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against superior officers, partly for a mock "Wanted" poster that depicted him in a likeness of Osama bin Laden.

Trooper Samuel Baker says he was harassed by Lt. Clifford Nall and forced to work excessive shifts in the troopers' Huntsville office.

The lawsuit, filed last week, also said Lt. Nall had in his office "a photograph of plaintiff in Arabic headdress identifying the plaintiff as 'WANTED' 'O'Sammy Bin Laden Militant Leader, Rebel for a Cause,''Montgomery under attack.'"

Trooper Baker is a captain in the Alabama Army National Guard.


Methamphetamine use growing, officials say

TUCSON Law enforcement agents and drug treatment providers are worried about the growing popularity of methamphetamine in southern Arizona.

U.S. Customs agents said they have seized record amounts of the drug, nearly 20 times as much this year as four years ago.

Officials said tougher state and national laws are pushing large-scale meth production south of the border.


'Sanford' star LaWanda Page dies

INGLEWOOD LaWanda Page, who played the fearsome, Bible-toting Aunt Esther Anderson on the 1970s television comedy "Sanford & Son," died Saturday. She was 81.

Miss Page died at Centinela Hospital Medical Center from complications of diabetes, friend and producer Donald Welch said yesterday.

She appeared from 1973 to 1977 on "Sanford & Son," where her Aunt Esther character was the target of insults by Fred Sanford, played by Redd Foxx.


Accused arsonist to leave halfway house

DENVER A judge ruled yesterday that a former Forest Service worker accused of starting Colorado's largest wildfire can leave a halfway house.

Terry Barton, who has pleaded not guilty in the June 8 fire that destroyed 133 homes and burned 137,000 acres, had been free on $600,000 bail but required to stay at a halfway house while awaiting trial.

Prosecutors argued that Mrs. Barton, 38, would be under more stress outside of the house, where she has been receiving mental counseling.

Mrs. Barton has pleaded not guilty to four federal charges, including arson and injuring a firefighter. The blaze started about 40 miles southwest of Denver.


Inmates petition for new DNA tests

WILMINGTON Seventeen persons convicted of violent crimes have asked state courts to reopen their cases using new DNA testing methods they say will exonerate them.

The defendants, who filed petitions through the public defender's office, want their cases reopened under a law passed in 2000 that gave convicts two years to make such requests. The deadline was Sept. 1.

Judges are expected to rule on the petitions soon.

The results could provide grounds for the convicts to petition for a new trial or a clemency decision that would free them.


Reno won't fight count in court

MIAMI Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno will not mount a court challenge if a final vote count shows she lost Florida's Democratic primary for governor to a political novice, her campaign attorney said yesterday.

Despite a raft of polling-place problems, Miss Reno has chosen to accept the result for the sake of party unity and the ultimate goal of unseating Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, younger brother of President Bush, campaign general counsel Alan Greer said.

Miss Reno appeared to have lost the Sept. 10 primary election to newcomer Bill McBride by about 8,200 votes. But an ongoing recount of ballots in her stronghold, Miami-Dade County, turned up approximately 2,500 votes in her favor during the weekend, lowering Mr. McBride's apparent margin of victory to about 5,700.


UI minority student enrollment falls

IOWA CITY Diversity isn't the easiest thing to cultivate in Iowa, where minorities constitute just 6.5 percent of the state's residents.

So the fact that minorities at the University of Iowa comprise more than the state average 8.8 percent of the school's student population and 7.6 percent of its work force during the 2001-02 academic year might seem impressive.

However, UI's minority student enrollment is in a downswing, dropping last September to its lowest level in seven years after a steady incline that began in the 1990s, the Press-Citizen reports.


Residents receive $10 anonymously

TURON White envelopes containing $10 bills have been arriving anonymously in the mailboxes of residents of this small, south-central Kansas town.

The mystery surrounding the sender's identity has confused and delighted residents of Turon, population 436.

"My first thought was that I had a birthday recently," said resident Markoleta Padgett, who found hers in the mail Wednesday. "But I thought, 'Who the tar would send me something for my birthday and not put a name on it?'"

By Thursday, 38 persons had called or stopped by the post office, seeking an explanation for the envelopes with no return address.


State forms group to prevent suicide

LEXINGTON State officials have created a prevention group in response to alarming suicide numbers among Kentuckians.

Data from the University of Kentucky indicate suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Kentuckians between the ages of 15 and 34.

From 1996-99, the annual suicide rate of 12.8 deaths per 100,000 exceeded the national average of 11.45 deaths per 100,000.


Defendant testifies confession was false

DIAMOND A shrimp boat deck hand accused of killing his captain in a fight over the sinking ship's only life jacket testified yesterday that he falsely confessed under hours of intense pressure from interrogators.

"They were getting loud and stuff," Alvin Latham said. "I just thought I'd tell them what they wanted to hear."

Mr. Latham, a 48-year-old grocery worker, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of the second-degree murder of Raymond Leiker, 35, on July 16, 2000.

His testimony came after a defense psychology expert testified that she found his IQ to be 74, just above the threshold for mental retardation.


Justice seeks money for security guards

PORTLAND Chief Justice Leigh Saufley plans to ask the Legislature for more money to provide security officers at courthouses around the state.

She said the money would supplement the $540,000 court security bond issue that voters approved in June. That money will go primarily toward buying metal detectors for county buildings.


Ex-FBI agent jailed for protecting mobsters

BOSTON A former FBI agent who had been credited with helping to cripple the New England Mafia was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison yesterday for protecting his top mob informants, including tipping them off to upcoming indictments.

John Connolly, 62, declined an opportunity to speak at his sentencing hearing. He blew a kiss to relatives seated in the front row as he was escorted, without handcuffs, from the courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro had rejected motions from both the prosecution and the defense to deviate from federal guidelines, which called for a sentence of roughly eight to 10 years.

Connolly retired from the FBI in 1990 and was convicted in May of racketeering, obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent.


Officials warn Detroit about syphilis increase

DETROIT Federal health officials have warned the city that syphilis is on the rise, the Detroit News reported.

Through July 30, Detroit recorded 245 new cases this year, and that number could reach 500 by year's end, officials said. By comparison, Baltimore reported 53 new cases as of June.


Researcher attacked by black bear

ST. CLOUD A wildlife researcher was in fair condition yesterday after a rare attack by a black bear, normally a timid species that runs from people.

Miles Becker was tracking woodcocks fitted with radio transmitters when the bear attacked him Sunday in the Four Brooks Wildlife Management Area 10 miles north of Milaca in central Minnesota.

Mr. Becker, 24, was taken to St. Cloud Hospital for treatment of broken facial bones, puncture wounds to his head and left leg, lacerations and a broken leg.

Wildlife officials set a trap for the bear, one of an estimated 30,000 in the state.

Black bears have killed only about 50 or fewer people in North America in the past century.


Convicted kidnapper gets life in prison

OMAHA A man convicted of kidnapping a teen-age girl and taking her on a six-day, 900-mile odyssey was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Anthony Wright, 31, was convicted in June of kidnapping a 17-year-old girl outside a shopping mall near her home in Kearney in April 2001. The high school honors student was freed when Wright surrendered six days later in Montana.

Wright, who also went by the name Tony Zappa, was given an additional seven years for using a firearm to commit a violent crime. He became eligible for a life sentence after a jury concluded he sexually assaulted the girl, even though he was not charged with that crime.


World War II ship's vets to hold reunion

PORTSMOUTH The crew members of a Navy landing ship, LST 308, in World War II will gather in Portsmouth this week for their annual reunion, maybe their last.

Engineer Carl Burnap of Rye is responsible for organizing this year's reunion that has been held at different sites across the country, but he worries that time is running out on them.

Noting that the numbers are dwindling and all of the vets are over 75 and don't get around as well as they once did, he speculated this could be their last gathering. He expects at least 22 husbands and their wives to attend.


Atlantic City having trouble finding workers

ATLANTIC CITY A building boom will create an estimated 12,000 jobs by next summer, but the new casinos and stores are having trouble finding workers.

The Borgata casino, scheduled to open next year, says it has only hired 100 of the 5,000 employees it needs.

State and union officials are discussing ways to improve public transportation to bring workers from nearby counties.


Battle brewing over Rio Grande water

ALBUQUERQUE The Rio Grande is drying up in drought-stricken New Mexico, putting an endangered fish and the water supply of the state's largest city in jeopardy.

Environmentalists want a federal judge to release water owned by Albuquerque into the Rio Grande to prevent the river from going dry in an area where the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow lives.

The targeted water would come from Heron Lake in northern New Mexico water that Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez contends would come "from the mouths of our children."


Mailman created love connection

GRAND FORKS Letter carrier Dave Guseman turned out to be a matchmaker when he delivered an electric bill to the wrong address.

Chad Ringenberg got the electric bill belonging to his neighbor, Jhannea Frandsen, in his mailbox, and decided to deliver it to her himself.

"We talked for about two hours that night in her doorway," Mr. Ringenberg told the Grand Forks Herald.

Last weekend two years later they were married. Mr. Guseman attended the wedding but was surprised when the minister started the ceremony by talking about the postal service, saying the letter carrier must have had an angel watching over him when he delivered Miss Frandsen's mail to the wrong address.


Agencies fail to check on mentally retarded

CINCINNATI Government agencies rarely check the private companies hired to help care for approximately 4,800 mentally retarded Ohioans who live on their own, the Cincinnati Enquirer said.

Although more than $200 million a year in taxpayer money goes to pay the companies, their clients are often at the mercy of untrained workers and are abused, neglected or robbed, the newspaper reported.


Army headquarters moving to Texas

The U.S. Army's headquarters for Latin America and the Caribbean is moving to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio from Puerto Rico, the Army announced yesterday.

U.S. Army South, a component of the U.S. Southern Command, has been at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, for about three years, said Maj. Chris Conway, an Army spokesman. The Army said the move to San Antonio is part of an effort to cut costs.

Maj. Conway said that the move, to begin next month, will save the Army $125 million in construction costs, but that relocation will cost about $45 million.


Prosecutor says judge is unfair

KITSAP COUNTY Prosecutor Russ Hauge has made permanent his refusal to have Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie hear new criminal cases.

In a letter to presiding Judge Leonard Costello, Mr. Hauge wrote that the verdicts Judge Laurie delivered in the trial of Aaron Williams "force us to the conclusion that the state cannot receive a fair trial in her court."

Judge Laurie convicted the 22-year-old Williams of second-degree assault for firing one or two gunshots in the direction of pursuing Bremerton policeman Mike Davis.

In reaching her verdict, she acquitted Williams of attempted first- or second-degree murder and first-degree assault.


Firefighters work to control blaze

SHERIDAN Firefighters worked to control an underground coal seam fire that federal mining officials said posed immediate health and safety threats.

The Welch Ranch fire has been burning since 1999. Crews forced sand into cracks and fissures above the fire.

In a petition, residents expressed concern over potential poisonous gases and ground collapses.

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