- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005


Man accused of ricin possession

PHOENIX — A man was arrested on a charge of possessing the deadly poison ricin, but authorities said they do not think he had any connection to terrorism.

Casey Cutler, 25, of Mesa, was arrested over the weekend after a man who was hospitalized complained that Mr. Cutler might have poisoned him with ricin. Federal prosecutors say Mr. Cutler will be charged this week.

The hospitalized man, whose name was not released, showed no signs of exposure to ricin, but ricin was discovered in Mr. Cutler’s possession when he was arrested Saturday, police said.

Officials said he wasn’t known to have any connection to terrorism, but gave no details on what or whom he might have been targeting.


Deadly trailer fire ruled accidental

LITTLE ROCK — A leak in a mobile home’s natural-gas line, apparently ignored for weeks, caused a fire in April that killed a young mother and five children, authorities said yesterday.

“It is my opinion this tragic episode was entirely accidental and there is no need for a criminal investigation to be continued,” prosecutor Robert Dittrich wrote in a letter to the Arkansas State Police. The letter was included in the police report, released yesterday.

The fire in the town of Humphrey broke out the evening of April 20, trapping Amanda Clemons, 23, inside the trailer with her two young sons and three other boys whom she was baby-sitting.


Thieves steal Charlie Brown statue

SANTA ROSA — Good grief. Charlie Brown, where are you?

A 6-foot statue of the “Peanuts” cartoon character has disappeared from an honored spot in front of a restaurant here.

Bob Forsyth, owner of Michele’s Restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa, is offering a $2,500 reward for the return of the statue, which is estimated to weigh about 300 pounds.

The statue features the quirky bald-headed boy wearing a chef’s hat and wielding a spatula and was one of 55 Charlie Browns erected around the city as part of a public art project and fundraiser.


Company sues PETA for infiltration, tape

TRENTON — A New Jersey biomedical company accused by PETA of mistreating monkeys in its Northern Virginia laboratory sued the animal rights organization and the activist who infiltrated and secretly videotaped one of its research labs.

Covance Co. accused the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Lisa Leitten of committing fraud, conspiring to harm its business and violating a nondisclosure agreement that Miss Leitten signed when she began her 11-month stint as a primate technician at the company’s Vienna lab in April 2004.

“This type of malicious activity by PETA, in which it conspires with individuals to lie about their intentions, to videotape and potentially disrupt medical research, and then to launch vile disinformation campaigns against pharmaceutical research companies, has got to stop,” Covance attorney James Lovett said.

In a civil lawsuit filed Friday in Fairfax County, the company said it wants PETA and Miss Leitten to hand over the original versions and all copies of her notes and videotapes, to stop publicizing the campaign on its Web sites, and to never again infiltrate Covance.

Neither Miss Leitten nor PETA officials immediately returned phone calls seeking comment yesterday.


Professor accused of student ID theft

WINTER HAVEN — A community college professor has been charged with using his students’ names and Social Security numbers to obtain department-store credit cards.

Bradley Neil Slosberg, 49, of Winter Haven, was arrested last week on charges of criminal use of personal identification and scheming to defraud, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Mr. Slosberg and his girlfriend, Deborah Hafner, stole the identities of at least three of the students from his anatomy and physiology class at Polk Community College, sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers said.

Mr. Slosberg had asked his students to write their names and Social Security numbers on a sign-in sheet, students said. “We all signed it,” Amanda Bracewell said. “We figured, ‘He’s a teacher, what is he going to do with it?’”


Black churches to aid in fight over Scouts

ATLANTA — Black church officials plan to get involved in resolving lingering accusations that the area’s Boy Scouts are inflating the numbers of black participants in an inner-city program.

“The black church has really been where we historically resolved these issues,” Joseph Beasley of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said yesterday.

Mr. Beasley last year claimed there were no more than 500 blacks in a Boy Scout program that claimed a membership of more than 10,000 boys — mainly blacks and other minorities.

Mr. Beasley said an audit released last week by the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts still showed an unrealistically high number — 5,300 — in the Operation First Class program. The program provides the boys’ registration fees, books, uniforms and other opportunities, including scholarships for camp.

Boy Scout officials said yesterday they had not been contacted by church officials but were willing to negotiate with them.


Price for home on Oahu hits record

HONOLULU — The median resale price for a single-family home on Oahu hit a record $610,000 in May, up 11.9 percent from April and 37.1 percent from May 2004, the Honolulu Board of Realtors said.

The resale of condominiums showed a record median price of $265,000, a 9.1 percent increase over last month’s record of $243,000 and a 35.9 percent jump from May 2004, the board said.


Double-lung recipient bikes around Tahoe

STATELINE — A California woman who underwent a double-lung transplant four years ago completed a 10-hour, 72-mile bicycle ride around Lake Tahoe over the weekend.

Toni Scoralle, 45, of Danville, Calif., used to bike around Tahoe in her 30s, but hadn’t done the ride since receiving her new lungs on June 1, 2001. After undergoing the transplant, she followed doctors’ orders to keep exercising.

“I just kept pushing myself,” she told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. “If you want something bad enough, you just do it.”

Her parents said they hope their daughter’s ride raises awareness about the need for organ donations.


Police officer nabs his own stolen car

CHARLESTON — An off-duty police officer on a Sunday drive saw something awfully familiar — his recently stolen Volkswagen Jetta.

North Charleston patrolman Ethan Bernardi pulled over the stolen vehicle. He called other deputies, who arrested three suspects, police said.

Investigators don’t know how the suspects got the car, which recently was stolen from Officer Bernardi’s home.

The driver, Vicki K. Grooms, 42, and two passengers were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.

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