- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2003

MASSACHUSETTS

Former FBI agent arrested

BOSTON — The former FBI handler of fugitive mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was arrested yesterday in Florida and charged with the 1981 mob-related murder of a Tulsa, Okla., businessman, his attorney said.

H. Paul Rico, 78, was arrested at his home near Miami in the slaying of 55-year-old Roger Wheeler, who was shot in the head at a Tulsa country club after a round of golf on May 27, 1981.

Mr. Rico’s arrest was the latest turn in a long-running scandal over the cozy relationship between the Boston FBI bureau and its underworld informants. Last year, a former FBI agent was convicted of protecting gangsters, including Bulger, who is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

Investigators said Mr. Wheeler’s slaying was linked to his purchase of World Jai Alai and his suspicion that money was being skimmed from the Florida company. At the time, Mr. Rico was retired from the FBI and was the head of security for World Jai Alai.

NEVADA

Siegfried says tiger tried to help

LAS VEGAS — The tiger that injured Roy Horn of the duo “Siegfried & Roy” had been trying to help the illusionist after he slipped, and accidentally harmed him by using too much force, says Mr. Horn’s partner, Siegfried Fischbacher.

“A cat is a tiger, and when he wants to protect his pal, he does it the way a tiger does, with his strength,” Mr. Fischbacher said yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But we are human. We are a little more fragile.”

Mr. Fischbacher said Wednesday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that he was standing backstage when Mr. Horn was wounded by the white tiger named Montecore. The magician said the tiger didn’t intend to kill Mr. Horn. If that was the case, he said, “I wouldn’t be here. Roy wouldn’t be here.”

ALABAMA

Court blocks murderer’s execution

ATMORE — The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of David Larry Nelson less than three hours before it was to take place yesterday, granting a stay until the court can review his appeal in a quarter-century-old murder case.

Nelson’s attorneys filed papers with the court earlier in the day saying the inmate has collapsed veins and that lethal injection would be so painful it would be cruel and unusual punishment. Nelson, 58, had been sentenced to die at 6 p.m. CDT for the Jan. 1, 1978, shooting death of Wilson Thompson of Kimberly while Mr. Thompson was with Nelson’s girlfriend.

He was also had been convicted in the shooting death of a Birmingham cabdriver the previous night.

The Supreme Court said the stay will be lifted if the court later decides not to hear Nelson’s full appeal.

Nelson once told a jury and a judge that he wanted to be executed. But when he was scheduled for execution in 1996, he received a stay because of a physician’s statement that he could be a kidney donor for a seriously ill brother. The operation did not take place.

ARIZONA

Court upholds ban on same-sex ‘marriage’

PHOENIX — A state appeals court upheld the state’s ban on homosexual unions Wednesday, rejecting arguments from a homosexual couple that same-sex “marriage” is a fundamental right.

Harold Standhardt and Tod Keltner applied for a marriage license after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a crime. The Phoenix couple’s request for a license was turned down and they asked the state Court of Appeals to overturn the ban and to order a court clerk to give them a license.

“This court does not dispute that a homosexual person’s choice of life partner is an intimate and important decision,” the appeals court’s ruling said. “However, not all important decisions [concerning] personal autonomy are protected fundamental rights.”

The couple’s attorney, Michael S. Ryan, said he expects to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court but that he must consult with his clients first.

ARKANSAS

Governor reveals education proposal

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Huckabee yesterday revealed a new proposal for reforming Arkansas’ public education system, suggesting the closing of inefficient high schools and higher salaries for teachers.

The proposal is similar to one he offered in January, but instead of threatening to consolidate high schools in districts with fewer than 1,500 students, he takes aim at high schools with fewer than 425 students in grades 9-12.

Arkansas is under a state Supreme Court order to improve an education system that serves 450,000 pupils.

CALIFORNIA

Man tries jogging historic Route 66

SAN BERNARDINO — Geores Buttner-Clevenger can’t escape the fact that he turned 66 last year — the road signs won’t let him.

Mr. Buttner-Clevenger is jogging historic Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica in six months and six days as part of an extended birthday celebration.

He has been trying to cover six miles in the morning and six miles in the evening and hopes to finish the 2,448-mile trek on Sunday — at 6:06 p.m.

The retired radiation technician from Berkeley, now 67, says that along the way, he has been attacked by ticks and slowed by everything from arthritis to muggers. He had to dodge numerous cars and was robbed twice in Oklahoma.

CONNECTICUT

Woman charged in hospital fraud

NORWICH — Deborah Shaw was charged with using forged documents to work as a licensed practical nurse for 15 years.

Prosecutors said Miss Shaw, 44, had worked for two years at a Norwich hospital, 10 years at a New London doctor’s office and three years at several convalescent homes.

FLORIDA

Mayor squeaks by with one-vote victory

DELAND — In a state known for close elections, the mayor’s race in Ponce Inlet came down to the tightest of margins — one vote.

A recount Wednesday broke a tie in the race, ending an election that started the previous day. Incumbent Mayor Bill Hoak won by the slimmest of margins, earning 465 votes to challenger Frank Vitale’s 464.

“That’s democracy, you know, at its best,” said Mr. Vitale, whose political advisers have not yet ruled out a challenge.

Mr. Hoak, declared the winner by Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe after a recount of all ballots, said he had hoped to win a third term by a wider margin.

INDIANA

Officials ordered to reprint ballots

INDIANAPOLIS — Less than a month before elections, a judge is ordering Marion County officials to redesign and reprint 600,000 ballots.

The judge ruled that candidates must be grouped by party rather than office and that the Republican party cannot use “The A Team” as part of their logo. The lawsuit was filed by Democrats who objected to the ballot design.

IOWA

Sprinkler plan could close fraternities

IOWA CITY — Fraternities and sororities at the University of Iowa say a plan to install sprinklers in all Greek system houses will be expensive and could close some of them.

The city is considering requiring sprinklers under an updated building code. Fire officials couldn’t point to any fatal fires in fraternities or sororities but cite some close calls.

KANSAS

Few are requesting minority farm loans

WICHITA — Millions of dollars in government loans aimed at helping women and minorities succeed in farming went unclaimed last year in Kansas.

Just 58 Kansas farmers borrowed from funds earmarked for traditionally disadvantaged groups by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency, taking out only $1.4 million from the $5.2 million available, said Arlyn Stiebe, the agency’s farm loan chief in Kansas.

Most of the money went to the 40 women who borrowed from the program. Only 18 borrowers were members of minority groups — including 12 American Indians, three blacks and three Hispanics. The unused funds typically are redistributed in the last weeks of each fiscal year to other states where demand is greater, Mr. Stiebe said.

MISSOURI

Judge plans to block abortion-delay law

JEFFERSON CITY — A federal judge plans to block a new state law that would require women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours after consulting a physician.

U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright will issue a temporary restraining order today, one day before the abortion law is to take effect, according to attorneys and the judge’s clerk.

The decision came during a telephone conference the judge held Wednesday with state attorneys and Planned Parenthood affiliates, who had challenged the law on grounds it is unconstitutionally vague.

A spokesman for state Attorney General Jay Nixon, said the temporary restraining order will remain into effect until a Jan. 27 hearing.

NEBRASKA

Clerk laughs at would-be robber

OMAHA — Convenience store clerk Jamie Brown laughed in the face of fear — and in the face of a would-be robber.

Mr. Brown was behind an inch of bullet-resistant glass when an armed robber entered the store. He laughed at the man and flipped a switch that locked all the doors in the store. Mr. Brown also closed the cash register and dialed 911.

Mr. Brown says the would-be robber begged to be let out, and kicked at the door. But it wouldn’t budge. The bandit eventually found a door that led to the garage, where he escaped through a window.

NEW JERSEY

Ex-cop pleads guilty in shooting spree

TOMS RIVER — A retired police officer pleaded guilty to murder yesterday for a 2002 shooting spree in which he walked house to house, killing his granddaughter and three other persons.

In a deal with authorities, John W. Mabie pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and dropped his defense of diminished capacity, Ocean County assistant prosecutor Robert Gasser said.

In return, prosecutors will drop a weapons charge and recommend a 30-year term at sentencing next month, Mr. Gasser said.

Acquaintances have said Mabie, who retired from the Newark police on disability in 1976, never got over a 1971 accident in which he struck and killed an 11-year-old boy in a go-cart.

OHIO

Court limits payments in drunk-driving suit

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state cannot charge people twice to reinstate their driver’s license after a single drunken-driving conviction.

The case affected people who lost their license when arrested and then again if they were convicted. More than $7 million will be split among 20,000 people who joined a class-action lawsuit.

TENNESSEE

College ex-president may have broken law

NASHVILLE — Former University of Tennessee President John Shumaker, ousted amid a probe of his spending, lied to investigators and may have broken the law, a report released yesterday said.

Mr. Shumaker, who resigned under fire in August, made several “misrepresentations” about his travel and expenditures and instructed his secretary to alter his calendar to try to hide what he had done, according to the state comptroller’s report.

Auditors concluded Mr. Shumaker took personal trips that were purported to be business trips and tried to conceal an affair with a former colleague with whom he shared a hotel room at a conference in San Antonio.

Information in the report was forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office and the prosecutor in Knox County, where the university is based, Comptroller John Morgan said.

TEXAS

Two more booked in beating of black

LINDEN — Two more white men were arrested yesterday in connection with the beating of a mentally disabled black man that left him comatose for a week and prompted the FBI to investigate the attack as a hate crime.

Dallas Chadwick Stone, 18, and Christopher Colt Amox, 20, were both booked on an aggravated-assault complaint after they surrendered to police. Two other suspects — John Wesley Owens, 19, and James Cory Hicks, 24 — were earlier arrested on aggravated-assault complaints. All four suspects were released on $30,000 bond yesterday.

Authorities said Billy Ray Johnson was beaten Sept. 28 after drinking in a pasture with a group of white men, and was then dumped on a roadside a couple of miles away. He was found lying on a fire ant mound in isolated woods. Mr. Johnson, 42, was recovering at a hospital.

The FBI’s investigation is continuing, but Police Chief Alton McWaters said he doubted the crime would go beyond aggravated assault.

UTAH

Pinned teen frees himself from Jeep

SALT LAKE CITY — An 18-year-old former wrestler whose leg became pinned under his overturned Jeep managed to reach a car jack, ratchet up the vehicle and free himself.

As college freshman Clancy Wright lay trapped last week, he said he thought of the climber whose arm had been pinned by a boulder last spring. “I didn’t want to cut my leg off like the guy who cut off his arm,” Mr. Wright said.

The skin, muscle and tissue in his left calf, from the knee to the ankle, was torn from his leg bones, which were completely exposed but not broken, he told the Salt Lake Tribune in yesterday’s editions.

Mr. Wright said he wrapped the leg with his T-shirt, and a passing rider found him shortly afterward and summoned an ambulance. He underwent surgery and was sent home the next day.

Climber Aron Ralston of Aspen, Colo., was hiking alone in southeastern Utah on April 26 when his right arm became pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder. He freed himself on the fifth day by snapping his bones and using a knife to cut off his forearm.

WASHINGTON

Wife’s family files wrongful-death suit

TACOMA — The family of a woman who was fatally shot by her police chief husband filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city Wednesday.

The family of Crystal Brame accuses Tacoma of failing to negotiate in good faith during settlement talks stemming from a $75 million claim the family filed after Police Chief David Brame shot his wife and killed himself April 26.

From wire dispatches

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