- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006


State may close juvenile boot camps

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers agreed yesterday to shut down the state’s juvenile boot camp system and pour more money into a less militaristic program for dealing with juvenile offenders.

The sheriff-run boot camps have been under scrutiny since the January death of a 14-year-old boy who had been kicked and beaten by guards at a Panama City camp.

The changes, agreed to by House and Senate negotiators, are part of a state budget agreement that still requires both chambers’ approval.

Under the agreement, the boot camps would be replaced with a less militaristic program called Sheriff’s Training and Respect. It would be run by sheriffs and closely monitored by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The state would pump an additional $32.6 million into juvenile justice programs, increasing the total spending to $699.5 million.

The Panama City camp was shut down after Martin Lee Anderson’s death, which remains under investigation and has drawn protests and calls for action from civil rights leaders.


2 Ex-Ryan jurors won’t be questioned

CHICAGO — A federal judge yesterday refused to let defense attorneys interview two jurors involved in former Gov. George Ryan’s racketeering and fraud trial.

“I don’t think there is a basis here to permit an inquiry,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer said in response to the request from attorneys working on an appeal.

Judge Pallmeyer said the main reason for her decision was that neither juror was on the panel that found Ryan guilty earlier this month.

One of the jurors was replaced by an alternate shortly before deliberations began; fellow jurors had complained that she was snoring during the trial. The other was replaced during deliberations when the judge found out that the woman had failed to indicate on a court questionnaire that she had an arrest record.

“How this jury was put together and re-put together during deliberations” was “a major issue,” Ryan attorney Julie Bauer said. Ryan’s attorneys have said they will appeal and indicated the jury changes would be part of their argument.


Salesman helps save heart attack victim

ST. PETERS — A driver who suffered a heart attack and crashed into a guardrail was saved by a defibrillator salesman and two nurses who happened to be passing by.

The salesman, Steve Earle, was transporting an automated external defibrillator, a device used to shock the heart into a normal rhythm.

“When I saw what was happening, I jumped out and instinctively grabbed the AED, just in case,” Mr. Earle told KSDK-TV of St. Louis.

Two nurses who also stopped when they saw the wreck Friday evening began performing CPR on the driver, Carolyn Holt. The defibrillator restored her pulse, and she was recovering in a hospital this week.


Amusement park trip turns into ‘fiasco’

RENO — Some reward.

Four busloads of students from O’Brien Middle School made the four-hour trip to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif., only to find the amusement park’s gates locked Monday.

The school-sponsored trip was supposed to reward top students.

“It was pretty much a fiasco,” said Washoe County School District spokesman Steve Mulvenon. “They ended up wasting a day that those kids could have better spent in class or doing what they were going to do at the park.”

School officials said the $50 fee will be refunded, and the tour company that arranged the trip has agreed to pay for the next one.

“The tour company neglected to check the schedule,” Mr. Mulvenon said.

Principal Scott Grange said the school was given printed tickets with Monday’s date on them.


Missing student found dead in landfill

EWING — Searchers at a Pennsylvania landfill found the body of a college student who disappeared more than a month ago, but authorities said yesterday that they don’t suspect foul play.

John Fiocco Jr., a freshman at the College of New Jersey, was last seen early March 25 when he returned to his campus dormitory after a party.

Investigators later found his blood on the dormitory’s trash bin, which led them to the landfill in nearby Tullytown, Pa. After more than three weeks of searching, they found the body there Tuesday. Mr. Fiocco was identified through dental records, state police and prosecutors said yesterday.

State police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said there is no evidence that Mr. Fiocco was stabbed or shot. He said the investigation is continuing, but Mr. Fiocco’s death is not classified as a homicide.

Mr. Fiocco’s family declined to comment yesterday. His uncle had said Tuesday after the body was found that the family was in mourning. Joseph Fiocco asked anyone with information about what had happened to his nephew to contact authorities.


Gay rights activists detained at West Point

WEST POINT — Twenty-one homosexual rights activists were detained at the U.S. Military Academy and issued federal citations yesterday while protesting the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The academy was their last stop on a cross-country tour of 20 conservative Christian and military colleges that protest organizers say discriminate against homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people.

Members of the protest group Soulforce Equality Riders have faced charges for protests at five of the campuses. Ten were handcuffed and charged with disorderly conduct after demonstrating April 14 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Yesterday, about 50 protesters arrived on buses at the gate that separates the storied U.S. Military Academy from the village of Highland Falls. The 21 detained had entered campus grounds and were warned that they risked federal charges if they continued to try to protest inside the post.

After several trips through the gate, they were cited by military police for entry to military property for unlawful purposes, a misdemeanor. Federal law prohibits protests on military installations.


Woman pleads guilty in ‘stolen house’ case

DOYLESTOWN — A would-be home buyer with less than a dollar in her bank account pleaded guilty to fraud in what prosecutors said was an attempt to steal an entire house.

Wendy Jean-Francois, 44, of Morrisville, pleaded guilty Monday in Bucks County Court to multiple counts of fraud, forgery and related charges.

Prosecutors said Jean-Francois had 97 cents in her bank account when she sat down Oct. 5 at a settlement table at Rainbow Assurance, a mortgage title firm in Falls.

She used two checks totaling $63,000 and a letter vouching for them, purportedly from a Wachovia Bank manager, and left with the keys to a $328,000 home, prosecutors said.

The checks turned out to be counterfeit and the letter forged, said David Zellis, first assistant district attorney.

“This just boggles the mind,” he said. Bucks County Judge Kenneth Biehn deferred Jean-Francois’ sentencing for a mental-health evaluation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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