Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Mercy flight crashes, killing all three aboard

EASTON | A small plane carrying a cancer patient to Boston went into a nosedive and crashed Tuesday in a grocery store parking lot, killing all three people on board, authorities said. It was the third fatal crash in as many months of a charity flight carrying a patient to medical treatment.

The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza went down in the parking lot of a Hannaford store in Easton, about 25 miles south of Boston, about 10:15 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said.

The plane was being operated by Angel Flight Northeast, a group of volunteer pilots who help people who need to travel for medical treatment.

Amy Camerlin, a spokeswoman for the organization, said a cancer patient and his wife were being flown to Logan International Airport in Boston so the man could be treated at the nearby Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.


Judge rules mayor didn’t violate bond

DETROIT | Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s third trip to court in a week turned into a victory Tuesday when a judge threw out a prosecution claim that a visit with his sister violated the terms of his bail in an assault case.

Judge Ronald Giles agreed with the mayor’s attorneys that a no-contact order didn’t include Ayanna Kilpatrick, who is listed as a witness in the assault case.

After the hearing, defense attorney Dan Webb denounced the prosecution claim as “truly ridiculous” and a product of “hysteria.”

Mr. Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, were charged in March with perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office in connection to their testimony in a civil trial. Text messages contradict their denial of an affair, a key point in the civil trial last year.

A group of Detroit-area Baptist pastors met Tuesday and publicly urged the mayor to consider resigning. The mayor’s spokeswoman had no comment.


Car hits plane, killing pilot

NEEDLES | A small airplane made an emergency landing on a highway Tuesday where it was struck by a car, killing the pilot, authorities said.

The plane, a Titan Tornado, landed on an Interstate 40 ramp leading to U.S. 95, about 10 miles west of Needles, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jodi Miller said.

Three people in the car suffered minor injuries when its windshield shattered, Miss Miller said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor described the plane as a home-built aircraft, classified as experimental.


Pool company head pleads not guilty

STAMFORD | A swimming pool company president has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge in connection with the drowning death of a boy whose arm was trapped by a pool’s powerful drain pump.

Attorney Richard Meehan Jr. said his client, Shoreline Pools President David Lionetti, entered the plea Tuesday in Stamford Superior Court.

State prosecutors allege Mr. Lionetti recklessly caused the death of 6-year-old Zachary Cohn last year in Greenwich. They said his company failed to install a required safety device that would have prevented the boy’s arm from getting stuck.

Mr. Lionetti, 53, is free on $25,000 bail. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

Mr. Meehan said Mr. Lionetti had been unaware of the 2004 law that requires the safety device.


State: Reservoir work may harm sugar buy

MIAMI | Florida’s proposed purchase of thousands of acres of farmland from U.S. Sugar Corp. to restore the Everglades would be jeopardized if a federal judge forces the state to resume construction on a huge reservoir, state attorneys said in court Tuesday.

The Miccosukee Indian Tribe, which considers the Everglades its ancestral home, wants U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno to order work to continue on a planned 25-square-mile reservoir considered a key to cleaner water in the vast wetlands.

But the Florida state attorneys said the estimated $300 million cost of the next phase of the massive reservoir work in western Palm Beach County might make it difficult for the state to finance the planned $1.75 billion, 187,000-acre sugar land purchase.

Lawyers for several environmental groups agreed, telling Judge Moreno at a hearing that the planned U.S. Sugar purchase represents a once-in-a-generation chance to rescue the Everglades.

Sugar farms and other agricultural interests are blamed for decades of damage to the “River of Grass” because of fertilizer and other contaminants.

Judge Moreno has authority over Everglades work because of a 20-year-old lawsuit that was the root of the multibillion-dollar restoration effort.


Settlements reached in clergy abuse cases

CHICAGO | The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago said Tuesday it had agreed to pay more than $12.6 million to settle lawsuits by 16 people who accused priests of sexual abuse.

“My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward,” Cardinal Francis George said in a statement in which he also apologized for the abuse.

“We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care,” he said.

Fourteen of the cases involve sexual abuse by 10 different priests and two relate to the Rev. Daniel J. McCormack, who pleaded guilty last year to charges he abused five children.

The archdiocese has now settled four of the five lawsuits stemming from abuse by McCormack.

The archdiocese has paid $65 million to settle approximately 250 claims during the past 30 years, said its chancellor, Jimmy Lago. Mediation continues in a couple of dozen other cases, he said.


Ex-lawmaker to be released

CINCINNATI | Former Ohio Rep. Bob Ney is scheduled for release from a halfway house, a prison Web site said, after serving his time in connection with a corruption scandal.

Ney, a Republican who served six House terms, has served nearly a year and a half of his original 2 1/2-year sentence. The federal prisons Web site shows Aug. 16 as his release date.

Ney, 54, was transferred in February from a prison in Morgantown, W.Va., to Cincinnati for placement in a halfway house.

Ney is the former chairman of the House Administration Committee. He admitted trading political favors for gifts and campaign donations arranged by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The sentence was reduced after Ney completed treatment for alcohol problems.


Father, son hurt in bear attack

KNOXVILLE | An 8-year-old Florida boy and his father were mauled by a black bear that pounced on the boy in a creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, authorities said Tuesday.

Evan Pala was cut, scratched and bitten. His father, John Pala of Boca Raton, also was cut before driving off the bear with rocks and sticks. They were both treated and released from a nearby hospital a few hours after the attack late Monday.

The boy was playing in a creek near a popular trail “and the bear just came and pounced on him for no apparent reason,” park spokeswoman Nancy Gray said.

The boy scared the bear off once, but it returned before the father finally drove it away.

Park rangers tracked down a young male bear weighing about 55 pounds that they suspected of being the attacker. When the bear acted aggressively toward the rangers, they shot it.

The animal was taken to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center for a necropsy to establish that it was the right bear, based on teeth and claw measurements, among other things. Miss Gray said the animal also would be tested for rabies, which has never been found in a Great Smoky bear.


Official: More cases likely against sect

SAN ANTONIO | Texas Rangers are investigating about 20 suspected abuse cases and 50 suspected bigamy cases involving members of a polygamist sect, a Department of Public Safety spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange cautioned that it remains unclear how many cases will ultimately be pursued. The Rangers, the investigative branch of DPS, are working with state troopers and prosecutors and are still sorting through the 400 boxes of documents seized from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in an April raid, she said.

The number of ongoing investigations stemming from the west Texas raid was first reported Tuesday by the Deseret News. The Salt Lake City newspaper cited e-mails released through a public records request.

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, declined to discuss how many people might ultimately be charged.

Willie Jessop, an FLDS member, said Tuesday he had no immediate comment on the number of criminal investigations.

All of the more than 400 children found at the Eldorado ranch during the raid were placed in foster care by the state, though a court later reversed that decision. Child-welfare officials continue to investigate and have asked that eight of the children be returned to foster care.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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