- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hurricane desertion prompts 51 firings

NEW ORLEANS — Fifty-one members of the New Orleans Police Department — 45 officers and six civilian employees — were fired yesterday for abandoning their posts before or after Hurricane Katrina.

“They either left before the hurricane or 10 to 12 days after the storm and we have never heard from them,” acting Superintendent Warren Riley said.

Police were unable to account for 240 officers on the 1,450-member force after Katrina. The force has been investigating them to see if they left their posts during the storm.

The mass firing was the first action taken against the missing officers. Another 15 officers resigned when placed under investigation for abandonment.

Forty-five officers resigned from the force after the Aug. 29 storm. The resignations were for personal reasons ranging from relocation to new employment, Superintendent Riley said.

The fired officers do not have the right to appeal, he said.

Situation improves in South Florida

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Simple tasks such as buying gas, cooking food and even turning on the lights got a little easier yesterday, with power restored to nearly half the homes and businesses that lost it during Hurricane Wilma.

Lines still formed at gas stations early in the day, but there were more open than earlier in the week, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

The department said oil companies got backup generators to their retailers, and the state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, focused on restoring electricity to stations and supermarkets. Power returned for most of the fuel depot at Port Everglades, which supplies stations across South Florida.

The utility said it had returned power to roughly 45 percent of the more than 6 million people who lost it, but said restoration of service for all of the remaining 3.6 million people might take until Thanksgiving week.

Two sentenced in bribery plot case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two former dog-track executives were sentenced to prison yesterday for conspiring to bribe the Rhode Island House speaker in a bid to get more gambling at the track and block a rival Indian casino.

The track itself, Lincoln Park, was fined $1.5 million, the maximum allowed by law.

No bribe was ever paid, and criminal charges were not filed against Speaker John Harwood or his law partner, whom the bribe scheme was said to have targeted.

The judge sentenced Nigel Potter, chief executive of former track owner Wembley PLC, to three years in prison, and Daniel Bucci, the track’s former general manager, to three years and five months.

Bone pieces found near ground zero

NEW YORK — Ten bone fragments discovered more than four years after the World Trade Center attacks on the rooftop of a nearby skyscraper are human, officials said yesterday.

The pieces were found last month by construction workers sifting through gravel on top of the former Deutsche Bank building, which is being torn down.

Parts of the trade center’s South Tower spread debris and carved a gash in the 41-story building’s facade when it collapsed on September 11.

The city medical examiner will try to identify the remains by extracting DNA and checking it against a database of World Trade Center victims, medical examiner’s spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

The city has recovered 19,964 pieces of human remains from the attack and identified 9,100 of them, Miss Borakove said. Of the 2,749 persons who died at the trade center, 1,152 have no identifiable remains.

Republican donor turns himself in

TOLEDO, Ohio — A major Republican donor surrendered to authorities yesterday on charges that he tried to skirt campaign finance laws by giving other people thousands of dollars to pass on to President Bush’s re-election effort.

Tom Noe, a coin dealer embroiled in an Ohio state government scandal, was taken into custody in Orlando, Fla., and was being held there by the FBI, said David Bauer, an assistant U.S. attorney in Toledo.

Mr. Noe was charged in a federal indictment Thursday with illegally funneling $45,400 to the president’s re-election bid through two dozen friends and associates. Individual contributions are limited by law to $2,000.

Mr. Noe also is under investigation over an ill-fated $50 million investment in rare coins he managed for the Ohio workers’ compensation fund.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $950,000.

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