- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Nevada priest waives extradition in assault

PHOENIX — A Roman Catholic priest facing charges of beating and sexually assaulting a female employee at his Las Vegas parish told a judge yesterday that he won’t fight extradition from Arizona.

The Rev. George Chaanine, 52, was arrested Thursday in Apache Junction, about 30 miles east of Phoenix.

Father Chaanine had been on the run since Jan. 26 when he attacked the female church worker, authorities said. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail and faces charges of attempted murder, sexual assault, kidnapping and battery with a deadly weapon in the incident.

Father Chaanine’s attorney, Brian Russo, said yesterday that his client will plead not guilty once he is returned to Nevada, where he was an administrator at Our Lady of Las Vegas parish.


Arrest made in ‘Spa Bandit’ case

LAKE BLUFF — A man suspected of being the “Spa Bandit” is feeling the heat in another way.

The 56-year-old man was charged with theft of services after being accused of failing to pay for pedicures and other spa treatments, police said Monday.

He was arrested over the weekend near a train station.

“He ran away from the officers across a parking lot and tried to get into a taxi,” Deputy Police Chief David Belmonte said. “That’s when he was apprehended.”

Authorities said the man received several services in at least 20 spas in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since March and left without paying the bill.


House fire kills 10, 6 of them children

BARDSTOWN — Fast-moving flames trapped a dozen people inside a burning house early yesterday, killing 10 — six of them children — and leaving the only survivors hospitalized, authorities said.

Most of the victims were dead by the time firefighters reached them, Nelson County Coroner Field Houghlin said. Neighbors said the two survivors had to be held from running back into the flames for the screaming children.

“It may have been an explosion in the center of the house. The fire flashed very quickly,” said Bardstown Fire Department spokesman Tom Isaac.

The relationships and ages of the 12 persons in the house and the conditions of the survivors were not officially released, but neighbors and relatives who gathered at the home described them as an extended family.


Judge allows reports on abduction suspect

UNION — A judge yesterday refused to block the publication of news reports based on New York Post interviews with Michael Devlin, the man accused of abducting two boys and holding one of them for four years.

Such restraint would violate the Constitution, Franklin County Associate Circuit Judge David Tobben said.

Devlin, 41, faces charges of abducting and sexually abusing the two boys. Shawn Hornbeck was 11 when he was abducted in October 2002 from near his home in the Washington County town of Richwoods. Ben Ownby, 13, was taken Jan. 8 after getting off a school bus near his home in the Franklin County town of Beaufort. Officers found both boys at Devlin’s apartment in Kirkwood on Jan. 12.

Devlin’s attorneys were upset that Susannah Cahalan, a Washington University student working for the New York Post, was able to obtain an interview with Devlin at the Franklin County Jail.


Australian wins skyscraper race

NEW YORK — Australian Suzy Walsham took up staircase running to win a trip to New York, and captured the top prize yesterday after racing 1,576 steps up the city’s tallest skyscraper at the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Miss Walsham broke the tape on the 86th-floor Observation Deck in 13 minutes, 12 seconds to beat American Cindy Moll-Harris, a four-time winner of the event, by 12 seconds.

Germany’s Thomas Dold won his second successive race up the landmark building by 31 seconds over compatriot Jahn Mattias with a time of 10:25, to take the men’s title. It was the 30th time the annual event had been run.

Miss Walsham, 33, a former Australian 1,500 meters champion, said she has been running 50 miles per week. She improvised some training last week for the Empire race, which awards a trophy but no prize money.


State senator indicted on fraud

PHILADELPHIA — State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, one of the most powerful figures in Pennsylvania politics, was indicted yesterday on federal charges that he used a nonprofit group for personal and political gain and defrauded the state out of $1 million.

Many of the 139 charges stem from Mr. Fumo’s ties to a nonprofit agency in his South Philadelphia district.

Authorities had been investigating the Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods for more than four years. Fumo aides started the group in 1991 to serve the neighborhood where he grew up.

Prosecutors said he used state employees and the nonprofit group to fulfill his every whim, including cleaning his 33-room mansion, spying on his ex-wife and fighting a dune project that might block his view of the ocean.

The charges included fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and tax offenses.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said the Democrat spent about $1 million in state money and another $1 million from the nonprofit. Prosecutors said Mr. Fumo also engaged in a systematic cover-up through the destruction of e-mails and other electronic records.


Lottery sale proposed to aid uninsured

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry yesterday proposed selling the state lottery for at least $14 billion to create an endowment for Texans without health insurance and a trust fund for cancer research.

That money could be used to form a $2.7 billion endowment for the uninsured and to create a $3 billion fund to fight cancer, Mr. Perry said in his State of the State address.

Both funds would generate ongoing payments, the Republican said.

In Texas, the lottery reported more than $3.77 billion in sales in the 2006 fiscal year, the highest amount in its 14-year history. The lottery contributes $1 billion per year to public schools.

Mr. Perry also outlined proposals for increased tax relief, property tax appraisal relief, higher education, state budgeting transparency and hurricane preparedness. He complained about what he said were unfair federal actions or inaction on health care funding, border security and environmental regulations.


Derailment forces town to evacuate

HANDLEY — A freight train carrying propane gas and other hazardous materials derailed early yesterday, prompting authorities to close a highway and urge everyone to evacuate the small town.

The town’s roughly 550 residents were allowed to return home in the afternoon.

No injuries were reported, and there was no evidence that any of the overturned cars were leaking, authorities said. Eighteen cars of the CSX train jumped the tracks.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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