- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005


Police seek organizers of wild teen party

ROGERS — Police are trying to find the organizers of a teenage party that featured boys boxing and girls mud wrestling. Officials said the party apparently was a moneymaking venture, with cups for beer sold as well as digital video discs of the event.

Police identified some Rogers High School students on the DVD from last month’s party. About 200 people attended the off-campus event.


Deputy’s guest takes police on chase

COMPTON — A guest went on a ride along with a sheriff’s deputy, then stole the deputy’s patrol car early yesterday and led police on a chase through three cities, authorities said.

Steven Funderburk, 20, was riding with Los Angeles County Deputy Alexander Miller under a program that allows anyone to accompany an officer if they have no felony convictions and fill out an application, authorities said.

When Deputy Miller’s shift ended after 1 a.m., Mr. Funderburk asked to retrieve his bag from the car. When the deputy returned to check on Mr. Funderburk, the car was gone, sheriff’s Sgt. Don Manumaleuna said.

Deputy Miller talked to Mr. Funderburk on the patrol car’s radio and persuaded him to surrender after a chase through Compton, Long Beach and Westminster, Sgt. Manumaleuna said.


Pizzas delivered despite gunshot

TAMPA — A robbery attempt by a masked man and a gunshot wound to the leg didn’t stop a pizza delivery man from making his rounds.

Thomas Stefanelli, 37, said dedication to his job at Hungry Howie’s Pizza kept him on the job after a struggle with a robber Saturday night left him bleeding from a bullet wound in his left thigh. The shooter eventually fled with a second man. Mr. Stefanelli went on to make four deliveries before he was treated at a hospital.


Water departmentcalled heroin operation

CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors charged yesterday that the Chicago branch of a Colombian heroin trafficking organization operated inside the city water department.

Eight persons were arrested in Chicago and one was seized in New York on charges involving a suspected conspiracy to distribute heroin on city streets.

Among those charged was Gerald A. Prado, a hoisting engineer for the city’s water department and the leader of the distribution cell, federal prosecutors said.

Also charged were Mr. Prado’s brother-in-law, Anthony C. Ritacco, and Michael D. Hart, both identified as low-level employees in the city water department.

The water department is already awash in charges that trucking companies received department business in exchange for payoffs.


Victim of ‘53 tornado repays Red Cross

WORCESTER — It took 52 years, but Andy Karlson’s conscience is clear.

On Tuesday, Mr. Karlson, 95, fulfilled a promise to repay the American Red Cross the $7,500 it gave his family to rebuild after a devastating tornado in 1953.

“I owe the Red Cross something. It’s really very little,” he said at a ceremony at the organization’s new Worcester headquarters.

Jeffrey Karlson said his father is a man of modest means. “I think the fact that he gave the Red Cross the $7,500 is testament to how much it meant to him,” the son said.


Wildfire burns 20,000 acres

LAS VEGAS — Firefighters yesterday worked to extinguish hot spots and extend their control around a wildfire that had blackened about 20,000 acres on the Nevada Test Site and Nellis Air Force Base range.

Lightning started the blaze Friday near Dome Mountain, about 70 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Authorities said yesterday that the blaze was 75 percent contained in remote, rocky terrain. Kevin Oliver, Bureau of Land Management fire management officer, said crews hoped for full containment by the weekend.

More than 450 people were fighting the fire. No injuries or damage to structures were reported, and operations at the test site and on the Air Force range weren’t affected, officials said.


Zoo will add creationist display

TULSA — The Tulsa Zoo will add a display featuring the biblical account of creation after complaints to a city board about other displays with religious significance, including a Hindu elephant statue.

The Tulsa Park and Recreation Board voted 3-1 on Tuesday in favor of a display depicting God’s creation of the world in six days and his rest on the seventh, as told in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

The vote came after more than two hours of public comment from a standing-room-only crowd.

Zoo employees, religious leaders spoke in opposition, saying religion shouldn’t be part of the taxpayer-funded scientific institution.

Those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displayed religious items, including the statue of the Hindu god Ganesh outside the elephant exhibit and a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying: “The earth is our mother. The sky is our father.”


Customers, cabbie foil bank robbery

COLUMBIA — A taxicab probably isn’t the best getaway car for a bank robbery.

That was what one suspect learned Monday after a couple of quick-thinking customers and a veteran cabbie foiled his attempt.

Police said Maurice Eugene Fields Jr., 50, hailed a cab to take him to the nearby South Carolina Community Bank and asked the driver to wait.

When he came out with a fistful of money, a couple of customers followed him and told the cabbie not to take him anywhere because he had just robbed the bank, police said.

The suspect slipped through the back seat and walked away, but a customers followed him and kept in touch with someone at the bank by cell phone. Officers closed in on Mr. Fields, who gave up without resisting.


Ex-senator pleads in bribery case

MEMPHIS — Former state Sen. John Ford, who resigned last month after an FBI sting reportedly caught him taking payoffs and threatening a witness, pleaded not guilty yesterday and called his accusers liars.

Mr. Ford, a member of one of Tennessee’s most powerful political families, said he and several other legislators caught in the sting were victims of a setup. A trial date was set for July 5.

Also charged were state Sens. Kathryn Bowers and Ward Crutchfield, state Rep. Chris Newton, former state Sen. Roscoe Dixon, Chattanooga lobbyist Charles Love and Memphis resident Barry Myers.

Mrs. Bowers also pleaded not guilty yesterday and had her separate trial set for the same date.


Indictments refused in chicken plant abuse

MORGANTOWN — A grand jury refused to indict former chicken plant workers who kicked and stomped live birds while being videotaped undercover by an animal rights group.

Special prosecutor Ginny Conley had indicated that she had no evidence to warrant criminal charges, but said yesterday that more evidence had been found that persuaded her to present the case to a grand jury. Pressure from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) did little to sway her, she said.

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