- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004


Maher sued by ex-girlfriend

LOS ANGELES — A former live-in girlfriend of comedian Bill Maher sued him for $9 million yesterday, saying he enticed her into giving up her career as a flight attendant with false promises to marry her and then abused her and made insulting racial comments about her.

Mr. Maher’s attorney, Adam Streisand, said the breach-of-contract suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by ex-model and airline stewardess Coco Johnsen was “frivolous and false” and a bid “to seek retribution” since the end of the couple’s 17-month relationship in May.

The suit said Mr. Maher persuaded her to give up her 12-year job with Delta Air Lines to devote herself full time to him and his career. But the suit added that after Miss Johnsen quit working, Mr. Maher became abusive and made “insulting, humiliating and degrading racial comments” about her, a black woman, and physically threatened and abused her.


Park site listed on historic register

LEWES — The portion of Cape Henlopen State Park once known as Fort Miles has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation enhances efforts to preserve and restore the site, including its observation towers, bunkers and dozens of buildings.


Adoptions allowed despite objections

TALLAHASSEE — Florida judges can approve the adoption of foster children even when child-protection workers object, the state Supreme Court ruled in a decision that will reshape how endangered children are placed in permanent homes.

In a unanimous 14-page opinion on Wednesday, the court said judges could overrule the Florida Department of Children & Families in cases of children who were placed in the agency’s care because of abuse or neglect by their birth parents.

The decision is a victory for a woman identified in the case as B.Y., who moved to Palm Beach County in 2002 to care for her daughter’s three children.


City Council fights gasoline thefts

TWIN FALLS — The City Council has taken action against drive-off gasoline thefts. At the request of retailers, it passed an ordinance requiring all cash customers to pay before pumping. Stations failing to enforce prepayment could be fined.

Police have fielded 210 reports of drive-off thefts this year. Retailers say they report only a fifth of the incidents.


Orangutan undergoes ‘extreme makeover’

CHICAGO — A middle-age female orangutan called Maggie is fitter, trimmer and looking for love after undergoing what her keepers call “Maggie’s Extreme Makeover.”

In addition to healthier-looking skin and fur, Maggie has dropped 90 pounds and no longer snores or suffers from the flatulence, runny nose and constipation that once plagued her until keepers detected a thyroid condition.

Until treatment, keepers had tried unsuccessfully to get the 43-year-old ape to shed some pounds. Male orangutans didn’t interest her, either.

Maggie was prescribed thyroxin to balance her body chemistry. That increased her metabolism and helped her lose weight. The rust-colored animal became more alert after she was put on a high-fiber diet and an exercise program.

The treatment also has Maggie seeking love because it regulated her menstrual cycle and jump-started her desire to mate.


Veteran, 80, killed at start of parade

WHITMAN — An 80-year-old veteran of World War II was killed yesterday morning when a van backed over him as he prepared to march in a Veterans Day parade.

Witnesses said William Hammond, captain of the parade’s color guard, was lining up with fellow veterans at the start of the parade route when the van struck him.

The van, owned by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, was driven by a friend of Mr. Hammond’s. He was taken to a hospital to be treated for emotional distress.

The Army veteran, who served in the infantry, had fought in the Battle of the Bulge, said Robert Wessa, the post’s junior vice commander.


Man acquitted of starving wife

INDIANAPOLIS — A jury acquitted an Indianapolis man of neglect charges in the death of his wife, deciding that she intentionally had starved herself to death.

Sammie Bailey ate so little that by the time she died in March 2003 at age 57, she weighed 52 pounds. Prosecutors charged Clyde Bailey, 58, with neglect, a charge that carried a potential 20 years in prison, but a Marion County jury Wednesday found him not guilty, the Indianapolis Star reported.


Pharmacists arrested in OxyContin ring

NEWARK — Reputed street gang members, organized-crime associates and at least two pharmacists were arrested yesterday, accused of being part of a ring that sold the powerful painkiller OxyContin in the Boston area, authorities said.

Authorities were still carrying out search and arrest warrants yesterday morning and planned to release additional details later in the day.

At least two pharmacists, two members of the Bloods street gang and “two known organized-crime associates” had been arrested by midmorning, Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said.


Foster parent admits dumping body

NEW YORK — The foster mother of a disabled child who was found dead under a mountain of garbage at a city dump pleaded guilty on Wednesday just as jury selection was to begin for her trial.

Renee Johnson, 51, pleaded guilty to improper disposal of a dead body and falsely reporting an incident in exchange for 60 days in jail and three years’ probation. She faced up to a year in jail if convicted after trial.

Johnson was accused of leaving the body of 8-year-old Stephanie Ramos in a plastic bag amid garbage sacks lining a Manhattan sidewalk. The child, with Johnson for two years, had been blind and had cerebral palsy, diabetes and other ailments.

Officials said the girl died of natural causes owing to a severely underdeveloped brain with lesions, conditions she had at birth.


Inmate executed for 1996 murder

HUNTSVILLE — Texas executed a Houston man by injection on Wednesday night for a 1996 murder.

Frederick McWilliams, 30, was condemned for the murder of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 39, as he tried to steal the car in which Mr. Rodriguez was sleeping outside a Houston apartment complex on Sept. 27, 1996.

McWilliams was the second man executed this week, the 22nd to die this year and the 335th put to death by Texas since 1982, when the state resumed capital punishment.

Texas leads the nation in the number of executions.

Strapped to the gurney in the execution chamber Wednesday night, McWilliams thanked family members and friends for their support and told them that he loved them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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