- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 7, 2006

Romney to return cash from ‘Big Dig’ workers

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ governor intends to return campaign contributions from employees of a concrete supplier at the center of a federal criminal fraud case tied to the multibillion-dollar “Big Dig” highway project.

The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Mitt Romney was set to return $3,850 in contributions, including $750 received from Robert Prosperi, one of six Aggregate Industries NE Inc. employees accused of falsifying records to hide the delivery of inferior concrete to the Big Dig.

“The contributions were accepted in good faith, but, given the circumstances, Governor Romney believes they should be returned,” Mr. Romney’s political action committee said.

Three workers killed in construction accident

BAL HARBOUR, Fla. — A support frame collapsed at a high-rise construction project yesterday, killing three workers trapped in concrete as coworkers dug to try to free them, authorities said.

The workers were on the 27th floor, where a concrete floor was being poured when the supporting frame structure below them gave way and they fell to the 26th floor, said Capt. Al Cruz of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

A 3-foot layer of concrete fell onto the workers and partially buried them, fire rescue Capt. Allen Brown said.

Fellow workers tried to dig them out before rescue crews arrived. The cause of the collapse had not been determined.

A fourth worker was taken to a hospital with suspected heart trouble, Capt. Cruz said.

The building, One Bal Harbour, is to be a combination hotel and condominium, police Capt. Jay Smith said.

Flight students briefly detained

NEWARK, N.J. — Five airline passengers speaking in foreign languages and carrying “aircraft flight materials” were briefly detained yesterday until authorities determined they were simply returning to their home countries after attending a U.S. helicopter-training school.

Fellow passengers on American Airlines Flight 1874, which had departed from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, became suspicious of the men, a spokesman for the FBI’s Newark office said.

The men — identified only as four Angolan military personnel and an Israeli — had attended helicopter-training school in Texas.

A federal marshal on the plane notified authorities at Newark Liberty International Airport about the men’s behavior. Police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took them into custody when the plane landed at about 3:20 p.m. They were released at 6 p.m. after questioning.

Marijuana measure goes to Alaska governor

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska House passed legislation Friday night that would restore criminal penalties for marijuana possession and make it tougher to buy the ingredients to manufacture methamphetamine.

The Senate approved the bill last month, and it now goes to Gov. Frank Murkowski to sign into law. Mr. Murkowski sought to change Alaska’s law on marijuana possession, which is considered the most liberal in the country.

The Senate tacked the marijuana provisions onto legislation seeking to curb the manufacture of methamphetamine.

The House voted 24-14 in favor of the bill, which would make pot possession of 4 ounces or more a felony. Possession of less than 4 ounces but more than an ounce would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Less than one ounce would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

Storm winds, rain pound Texas

WACO, Texas — Thunderstorms with strong winds, heavy rain and a possible tornado uprooted trees, toppled power lines and damaged buildings in parts of Texas, officials said.

No injuries were reported from the storms Friday night and early yesterday.

In Waco, much of the damage appeared to be concentrated in an industrial area, where winds gusting to an estimated 80 mph peeled off warehouse roofs and crumbled the walls at a Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant.

A specialist was en route to determine whether a tornado or just strong winds caused the damage, National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan said.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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