- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Road workers charged in bid-rigging

ROCKY HILL — Five employees of the state Department of Transportation and a contractor were charged yesterday in a bid-rigging investigation that prosecutors called the latest effort to root out corruption from former Gov. John G. Rowland’s administration.

Robert Marino, 60, of Peabody, Mass., and his company, Marino Bros., are accused of bribing state DOT workers and colluding with DOT maintenance manager Joseph A. Misbach to win a contract for sealing cracks on state highways from 1997 through 2004.

Mr. Marino and the five DOT workers turned themselves in at the chief state’s attorney’s office yesterday morning.


Standoff ends in robber’s death

KISSIMMEE — A 10-hour-standoff with two armed bank robbers ended yesterday when police fatally shot one suspect and arrested the other, authorities said. Four hostages were unharmed.

The suspects had escaped from the bank near Walt Disney World with one hostage last night, but authorities cornered them in their getaway car, said Osceola County Sheriff Bob Hansell.

The male suspect then “used the hostage again as a shield to get into another vehicle,” he said. “He tried to leave again, and at that point he was taken down by one of our snipers.”

Deputies had been using cellular phones to negotiate with the suspects, a man and a woman wearing masks, wigs and coats. They held four hostages at one point, but released three.

The hostages said they were treated well and were not threatened with violence, Sheriff Hansell said.


Widow, caretaker die in suicide pact

SAN FRANCISCO — A 106-year-old widow and her 30-year-old caretaker died together in an apparent suicide pact at the home they shared, authorities said.

The bodies of Helen Godet and her caretaker of nine years, David Lund, were found Friday along with suicide notes indicating that Mr. Lund strangled the woman after she determined that she could not take her own life, police said Monday.

Mr. Lund then swallowed a fatal dose of antifreeze, authorities said. The notes were dated Dec. 27.

Police and social workers said that Mr. Lund, who never had children, and Mrs. Godet had been inseparable after meeting nine years ago. Mr. Lund slept on the sofa in Mrs. Godet’s house.


Open flames banned after weekend fires

DENVER — Gov. Bill Owens banned open fires on much of the state’s land Monday after flames scorched thousands of acres over the weekend and warm, dry weather put wide swaths of the Plains at risk unusually early in the year.

“As far as the fire danger is concerned, this is not January. This is July,” said Mr. Owens, a Republican. His declaration covers all state-owned land lower than 8,000 feet.

About 40 residents of Aguilar were evacuated Sunday when a fire neared the outskirts of town, about 160 miles south of Denver. The 5,000-acre blaze, which destroyed five homes, was 40 percent contained Monday and a dozen residents returned home. No injuries were reported.


Elders to mediate dispute over artifacts

HONOLULU — Hawaiian groups entangled in a dispute over native artifacts obtained from a museum and then buried have agreed to try to settle the case outside of court, one of the groups said Monday.

The director of a group dedicated to the proper treatment of ancestral remains has been in jail since Dec. 27 for refusing to tell a federal judge the exact location of the 83 artifacts from the Bishop Museum.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra had given all sides until Monday to decide whether they wanted to try to resolve the dispute using Hawaiian elders as mediators instead of lawyers.

“The parties all agreed that they would participate in this Hawaiian mediation process,” said William Aila, spokesman of Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei.


Father gets life in girl’s rape, stabbing

WALLACE — A man who raped and stabbed his 12-year-old daughter and left her for dead was sentenced to two life prison terms without the chance of parole after she read an angry statement to him in court.

John Rollins Tuggle pleaded guilty to rape and kidnapping with a deadly weapon, taking responsibility and sparing the victim from the ordeal of a trial, 1st District Judge Fred Gibler said at Monday’s sentencing.

“Other than those two things, it’s hard to find anything positive to state about Mr. Tuggle,” Judge Gibler said.

Tuggle’s daughter, who has changed her last name, looked directly at him as she read a letter to him in court, saying she was determined to overcome the loss of her innocence.


Roofers’ torches blamed in church fire

CHICAGO — Fire investigators on Monday said heating torches used by renovation crews caused the blaze that destroyed a landmark church known as the birthplace of gospel music.

Police do not think any criminal action contributed to the start of the roof fire that caused the 115-year-old Pilgrim Baptist Church to go up in flames Friday, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Thomas A. Dorsey, considered the father of gospel music, was Pilgrim’s music director from 1932 until the late 1970s, and his all-time greatest hit, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” was popularized by Mahalia Jackson and became the favorite song of Martin Luther King.


Baptists offer goods for guns

GARY — Baptist ministers in northwestern Indiana are encouraging people to give up their guns by offering vouchers for groceries or clothing.

Anyone who turns in a firearm to Gary police can take the receipt to one of a series of revivals and exchange it for a voucher. Forty churches raised money for the program.


Recall petition filed against governor

BATON ROUGE — A Republican who says she has never worked on a political campaign filed documents yesterday for a drive to oust Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat who was criticized for her response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Kat Landry, who filed a recall petition with state election officials, said Louisiana needs new leadership to recover from the storms’ back-to-back blows.

In Louisiana, getting a recall on the ballot requires petition signatures from at least one-third of the state’s registered voters, or about 900,000 people, in 180 days, said Jennifer Marusak of the secretary of state’s office. The 180-day period for gathering signatures began yesterday, when the petition was filed, she said.

Mrs. Blanco was out of the country and unavailable to comment. A spokesman would not comment on the petition.


Lawmakers OK halt on executions

TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers voted Monday to suspend executions while a task force studies the fairness and costs of imposing the death penalty.

The measure went to acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, who indicated he would sign it before leaving office yesterday.

Under the measure, a 13-member commission would have until November to report on whether the death penalty is imposed fairly and whether alternatives would ensure public safety and address the needs of victims’ families.

Ten prisoners are on New Jersey’s death row. Although capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1982, the last execution took place in 1963.

The Assembly passed the measure Monday by a 55-21 vote, with two abstentions. The Senate approved it by a vote of 30-6 last month.


Body left in home for 21/2 years

CINCINNATI — The mummified body of a woman who didn’t want to be buried was found in a chair in front of her television set 21/2 years after her death, authorities said.

Johannas Pope had told her live-in caregiver that she didn’t want to be buried and planned on returning after she died, Hamilton County Coroner O’Dell Owens said Monday.

She died in August 2003 at age 61. Her body was found last week in the upstairs of her home on a quiet street. Some family members continued to live downstairs, authorities said.

An air conditioner had been left running upstairs, and that allowed the body to mummify, Mr. Owens said. The machine apparently stopped working about a month ago, and the body began to smell.

Police went to the house last Wednesday after receiving a call from a relative who hadn’t seen the woman in years.


Rockwell gallery put up for sale

ARLINGTON — An art gallery and gift shop devoted to the work of the late Norman Rockwell is for sale, along with some of the artist’s original paintings.

Joy Hinrichsen said none of the inquiries she has received fits what she wants in an owner, including one who wanted to move the paintings out of state. Miss Hinrichsen is asking $298,000.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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