- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003


Former farm official admits extortion

GREENVILLE — A former North Carolina state agriculture commissioner pleaded guilty yesterday to five federal charges of extortion, mail fraud and conspiracy stemming from her election campaign.

Meg Scott Phipps, who was convicted Oct. 30 of state charges, had faced 30 federal counts, including witness tampering, before agreeing to a plea bargain on two counts of extortion, two counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors said Phipps accepted illegal cash from vendors interested in doing business at the state fair. She could receive up to 45 years in prison, but U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said he expected a term of five years at the March 1 sentencing.


Teens accused of killing counselor

GROVE CITY — Two teenagers killed their counselor at a juvenile detention center yesterday and escaped in his pickup, but theywere captured at a Pittsburgh high school hours later, authorities said.

Wayne Lamont Urey Jr., 43, was killed in one of the boys’ bedrooms shortly after midnight at George Junior Republic, a private boarding school and treatment center, authorities said.

At about the same time, Anthony Machicote, 17, and Jeremy Melvin, 16, escaped in Mr. Urey’s truck, police said. Mercer County prosecutors planned to file charges of homicide, robbery, escape, auto theft and criminal conspiracy against the teens.


State requests judge’s removal

MONTGOMERY — The state attorney general asked a judicial panel yesterday to remove suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for defying a federal judge’s order to remove the Ten Commandments monument.

In a pretrial brief filed with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, Attorney General Bill Pryor said Chief Justice Moore should be removed because he “intentionally and publicly engaged in misconduct, and because he remains unrepentant for his behavior.”

Mr. Pryor’s office is prosecuting the chief justice before the Court of the Judiciary on charges that he violated judicial canons. The trial-like proceeding begins tomorrow.


Bracelet found after nearly 60 years

FORT MYERS — The last time Virginia “Ginny” Moore saw her first husband in 1944, he was headed overseas to fight in World War II, wearing a silver identification bracelet she gave him.

Marcus L. Comer’s name and Army serial number were engraved on one side and the words “Love, Ginny” were inscribed on the other. He was killed Jan. 14, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge.

Mrs. Moore, 79, received a call from a Belgian police officer who said he found the bracelet inside a foxhole in a forest near Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, Belgium. The officer, Lorenzo Maierna, told Mrs. Moore he wants to keep it for a World War II museum he plans to open to commemorate the liberation of Belgium from the Germans.

Mrs. Moore wants it back. “I feel like it’s part of my husband,” she said. “And I’d like to just hold it in my hand.”


Parental embrace calms babies during shots

CHICAGO — Infants getting shots at the doctor’s office cry less when they are held by their parents and given sugar water and bottles or pacifiers, a study found.

The extra steps eased parents’ minds and took only about five seconds more than the old-fashioned way of immunizing infants — while they lie on an examining table, without any pain relief.

The research, led by Dr. Evelyn Cohen Reis at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, was reported in November’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, published yesterday.


Drug may help people lose fears

NEW ORLEANS — Scientists say a pill may help people overcome their worst phobias.

In a small study released yesterday, a drug already on the market for tuberculosis helped people who were terrified of heights get over that fear with only two therapy sessions, instead of the usual seven or eight.

The study, led by Michael Davis, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine, was described during a session about unlearning fears at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Dr. Davis based his work on research that had found the transmission of a certain protein to a brain receptor was critical to overcoming fear. He found that the TB drug, D-cycloserine, assists in the transmission of the crucial protein.


Swans disappear; public’s help sought

MISSOULA — A family of four trumpeter swans, the first to call western Montana’s Blackfoot Valley home, apparently has disappeared into the huge winter migrations of swans.

Wildlife biologists asked for public help to track the adult male and three cygnets he is raising alone. The female swan died before the eggs hatched.


Panel won’t endorse re-creating Old Man

MANCHESTER — The task force charged with finding an appropriate way to honor New Hampshire’s fallen Old Man of the Mountain will recommend against creating any kind of replica on the cliff face.

Former Gov. Steve Merrill, who chaired the 12-member task force, told the New Hampshire Sunday News that the group instead will endorse several ideas for commemorating the state symbol, which collapsed May 3.


Children find launcher for Army missile

NEW YORK — Schoolchildren found a U.S. Army-issued missile launcher from Iraq in a garbage can in Brooklyn yesterday. But it was inoperable, and no one was injured handling it, police said.

Police said the missile launcher was brought back to New York from the war in Iraq by an unidentified member of the U.S. armed forces, who apparently gave it to a friend, who subsequently dumped it in the trash.

A man brought it into a police station in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn yesterday morning after seeing schoolchildren playing with it, police said. Police described the launcher as a one-shot, light antitank weapon but gave no further details. It had already been fired and could not be used again.


Couple charged in diamond heist

AKRON — A former jewelry company worker is accused of stealing diamonds worth about $500,000 from her employer, by slipping away with them one at a time over several years, police said.

Farrah Daly, 26, of Barberton, was charged Friday with aggravated theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Mrs. Daly’s husband, Michael Daly, 26, was charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Both were freed on $100,000 bail.

Police believe that 39 diamonds, each about 1 to 3 carats, were taken from Sterling Jewelers Inc.


Hospital to cut back after losing millions

OKLAHOMA CITY — OU Medical Center plans to make cutbacks in its trauma unit, which has lost more than $8 million in the past three years.

The hospital has a level-one trauma unit, the highest category for trauma centers. It’s the only facility in the state to have such a rating.


Woman, 78, sky-dives on first anniversary

PROVO — Don and Marion Peterson have been flying high since they got married a year ago.

He renewed his pilot’s license, taught her how to fly, and has taken her paragliding.

But for the 78-year-olds’ first wedding anniversary on Saturday, Marion Peterson celebrated with her first sky-dive.

Mrs. Peterson said her husband came up with the idea. “And I said, ‘Why not? I can’t do it any younger.’”

Before boarding the airplane, Mrs. Peterson, in white Reeboks and a crisp sweat shirt, said she wasn’t nervous.


Hunter kills bear with arrow

ARDEN — Leslie Riggs hardly expected to be facing a 420-pound black bear when he went deer hunting with his bow — and his crutches.

Mr. Riggs, 53, was using a fallen oak tree as a blind and waiting for deer Friday, but instead of deer, the bear came out of the woods and headed in his direction. Mr. Riggs waited until the bear was about 25 yards away, then fired one arrow and hit it just behind its shoulder.

Afraid the wounded bear would attack, Mr. Riggs, whose lower right leg was amputated this past summer after an arterial complication, hustled away.

Mr. Riggs’ son, Richard Mason, found the bear the next day about 225 yards from the fallen tree.

More than 100 people stopped at a grocery store Sunday to take pictures of the animal.


Schools offer students prizes

RACINE — Several schools are offering incentives to students to improve performance and participation on the state’s standardized tests. Case High School will hand out movie passes to every 10th-grader who completes the exams.

Many state schools began testing fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders last week.

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