- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2005

ALABAMA

Group files lawsuit in beating case

MONTGOMERY — The Southern Poverty Law Center plans to file a civil suit against four young white men for the September 2003 beating of a mentally retarded black Texas man.

Billy Ray Johnson, 44, of Linden, Texas, was beaten until he was unconscious and left for dead. His family says Mr. Johnson had functioned at the level of a 12-year-old before the assault, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Local courts convicted the four of misdemeanor charges and let them walk free after serving brief jail terms, the report said.

But attorneys for the Montgomery-based SPLC said they hope to get enough money to move Mr. Johnson from his present nursing home to a better facility where he can receive therapy for the brain damage he suffered, the Tribune reported.

ARIZONA

Diocese set to emerge from bankruptcy

TUCSON — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson officially could emerge from bankruptcy today, a year to the day after its filing.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 protection as claims related to clergy sex abuse mounted. Bankruptcy specialists said the quick resolution to the case, which included settlements for victims, resulted from the agreement of all the parties to work together.

CALIFORNIA

Gold Rush-era coin sells for $253,000

BEVERLY HILLS — A rare Gold Rush-era coin owned by a descendant of Chinese immigrants who worked in the California gold fields sold for $253,000 at a Beverly Hills auction.

The coin has been confirmed by numismatists as one of only 12 “Quarter Eagles” known to exist from the 246 that were made at the San Francisco Mint in 1854.

The Quarter Eagle is about the size of a dime and was made from Gold Rush ore at the San Francisco Mint just months after it opened. It contains one-eighth ounce of California gold.

The anonymous seller’s great-grandfather acquired the coin sometime between 1856 and 1858 while working the gold fields, according to the American Numismatic Rarities of Wolfeboro, N.H., which auctioned the coin Sunday.

CONNECTICUT

Woman pleads guilty to fondling boy, 8

BRIDGEPORT — A 30-year-old woman admitted having repeated sexual contact with an 8-year-old boy — her daughter’s playmate — and accepted a plea deal yesterday that likely will send her to prison for six years.

Tammy Imre pleaded guilty to two counts of risk of injury to a minor, a reduced charge that the boy’s family accepted to spare both children time on the witness stand.

Imre admitted engaging in sexual acts with the boy, but said the kissing and fondling stopped short of sexual intercourse.

State social workers have custody of Imre’s daughter, who told police that she saw her mother and the boy doing “disgusting” things.

Imre will be required to register as a sex offender after she is sentenced Nov. 4. The plea deal calls for a 12-year sentence to be suspended after six years.

HAWAII

Two hurricanes head toward islands

HONOLULU — The Eastern Pacific’s first hurricanes of the year headed toward Hawaii, prompting forecasters to recommend Sunday that residents stock up on emergency supplies.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu said Hurricanes Jova and Kenneth were unlikely to come ashore, but added that they were distant enough to make it difficult to predict what they would do.

Forecaster Bob Farrell said the mostly likely scenario was for Jova to dump heavy rain on the islands from late Friday through Sunday after weakening. Kenneth’s rains would follow.

INDIANA

Man tries to divert drug-sniffing dog

WABASH — A driver stopped for speeding apparently tried to distract a drug-sniffing dog with something canines like a lot — dog biscuits.

Troopers stopped Jong H. Kim, 23, of Overland Park, Kan., along U.S. 24 on Wednesday, and then called for a Wabash County Sheriff’s Department dog after the man appeared to be very nervous.

As the dog walked around the car, Mr. Kim threw dog biscuits and debris out the window toward the dog to distract it, police said. The dog nonetheless indicated the possible presence of illegal drugs in the car, authorities said.

Troopers reported finding about 75 grams of marijuana hidden in the car. Mr. Kim was being held on charges of marijuana possession, resisting law enforcement and drunken driving.

KANSAS

Officials probe blast on gas-drilling rig

INDEPENDENCE — Evidence of criminal activity has been found in a natural-gas drilling rig explosion that killed two workers and injured a third, authorities said yesterday.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the June 2 explosion.

Paul Marquardt, an ATF spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., would not discuss the evidence in detail.

NEW MEXICO

Two officials face racketeering charges

ALBUQUERQUE — The New Mexico state treasurer and his predecessor pleaded not guilty yesterday to federal racketeering charges involving kickbacks of cash, cars and expensive tickets to political fundraisers.

Treasurer Robert Vigil and former Treasurer Michael Montoya are accused of steering state business to an investment adviser in exchange for nearly $700,000.

If convicted, each faces 20 years on each of two counts.

PENNSYLVANIA

Cleric sentenced in corruption case

PHILADELPHIA — A prominent Muslim cleric was sentenced yesterday to more than seven years in prison on racketeering and other charges, the latest in a string of convictions stemming from the FBI’s sweeping probe of municipal corruption.

Prosecutors said Shamsud-din Ali, 67, used his political connections to obtain dubious loans, donations and city contracts.

In addition to his 87-month sentence, Ali was ordered to pay restitution. He was released pending an appeal.

The investigation of the so-called “pay to play” culture in Philadelphia’s city government has led to the convictions and guilty pleas for more than a dozen people, including a former city treasurer, two bank executives and several business owners seeking city contracts.

The probe became public when police discovered an FBI bug in Mayor John F. Street’s office. The mayor has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.

VERMONT

Board will hear plan for nuclear waste

BRATTLEBORO — The state Public Service Board will travel to Brattleboro today for a hearing on a proposal by the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to store high-level radioactive waste in concrete and steel silos on its property in neighboring Vernon.

The 33-year-old reactor is running out of room for the waste in its spent-fuel pool. It will have to close in 2007 or 2008 if it can’t store additional waste at the site, plant officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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