- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

Bush signs bill sanctioning Syria

President Bush signed legislation yesterday calling for economic penalties against Syria for not doing enough in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and in Iraq.

Mr. Bush signed the bill into law with no fanfare before leaving the White House for the Camp David retreat in Maryland.

“My approval of the act does not constitute my adoption of the various statements of policy in the act as U.S. foreign policy,” Mr. Bush said

It states that Syria must end its support of terrorists, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, terminate its 27-year military presence in Lebanon and stop efforts to obtain or produce weapons of mass destruction.

If Syria fails to meet those conditions, the president must ban sales of dual-use items, which can have both civilian and military applications.

He also must impose at least two out of a list of six possible penalties: a ban on exports to Syria, prohibition of U.S. businesses’ operating in Syria, restrictions on Syrian diplomats in the United States, limits on Syrian airline flights in the United States, reduction of diplomatic contacts or a freeze on Syrian assets in the United States.

Officials sentenced for taking bribes

Two former senior Pentagon officials each were sentenced yesterday in Alexandria to 24⅓ years in prison for taking more than $1 million in bribes and accepting prostitutes from government contractors.

Robert Lee Neal Jr., 51, of Bowie, and Francis Delano Jones Jr., 51, of Fort Washington, also were ordered to jointly pay $1.75 million in restitution. The two men were convicted in U.S. District Court in July of conspiracy, extortion, money laundering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Neal was appointed by President Clinton in 1996 to serve as director of the Pentagon’s office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (SADBU), which helps minority-owned businesses obtain defense contracts. Jones, his top assistant, joined the office in 1999.

Federal prosecutors said the men demanded bribes as high as $100,000 in certain cases and received $1.1 million in bribes and other illegal funds.

Whitewater penalty reduced for Tucker

A federal judge has reduced from $1 million to $63,000 the amount of back taxes owed by former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in his guilty plea in a Whitewater case, saying the government used an outdated law to calculate the damages.

Tucker and two co-defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to impede the Internal Revenue Service in what authorities said was an effort to arrange a $2 million bankruptcy scam to reduce their tax liability on the sale of a cable television business in 1988.

He pleaded guilty in 1998 and agreed to cooperate in the then-ongoing investigation of President Clinton by Whitewater prosecutors.

Tucker was intimately involved with Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association and Capital-Management Services Inc., both as a borrower and as an attorney for the two firms. Madison, owned by Clinton business partners James and Susan McDougal, and Capital-Management, an Arkansas lending agency owned by former Little Rock Municipal Judge David L. Hale, were at the heart of the Whitewater investigation.

In May 1996, he was convicted on two fraud and conspiracy counts in the first Whitewater trial and, because of his then-failing health, sentenced to four years’ probation.

Man shoots himself on ‘X’ in Dealey Plaza

DALLAS — A man shot himself to death early yesterday on the “X” in Dealey Plaza that marks the spot where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 40 years ago, authorities said.

Witnesses said they saw a man in a camouflage jacket holding a gun on his chest lying in the middle of the street on the spray-painted “X,” an unofficial memorial maintained by the publisher of a local conspiracy theory publication.

According to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office, the man, who was not immediately identified, was in his 40s.

Pastor sentenced for school beating

AUSTIN, Texas — A church pastor was sentenced to 26 years in prison yesterday for severely beating a little boy with a tree branch after the child misbehaved during a summer Bible program.

The pastor’s twin brother received a 14-year sentence for his role in the beating.

“Justice was served,” prosecutor Beth Payan said.

Prosecutors had said Joshua and Caleb Thompson beat Louie Guerrero, then 11, so badly that he spent a week in intensive care facing the threat of kidney failure and needing a blood transfusion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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