- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2009


27 injured in bus fire

LOS ANGELES | A commuter bus caught fire Thursday on a Los Angeles-area freeway and 27 people were treated for smoke inhalation, a fire official said. No one was seriously injured, but the bus was gutted.

The northbound Commuter Express bus was at Calabasas, about a dozen miles northwest of Los Angeles, when the fire broke out in the engine compartment in the rear, authorities said. The cause was not known.

“The driver noticed smoke and then some flames coming out of the rear,” Los Angeles County fire Inspector Steve Zermeno said. The driver pulled over, and the 37 passengers got out.

One woman who suffered smoke inhalation was taken to a hospital for observation, and 26 other people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Inspector Zermeno said.


Pharmacy erred in horse drug

WEST PALM BEACH | An official at a Florida pharmacy said Thursday that the business incorrectly prepared a supplement given to 21 polo horses that died over the weekend while preparing to play in a championship match.

Jennifer Beckett of Franck’s Pharmacy in Ocala, Fla., told the Associated Press in a statement that the business conducted an internal investigation that found “the strength of an ingredient in the medication was incorrect.” The statement did not say what the ingredient was.

Ms. Beckett, the pharmacy’s chief operating officer, said the pharmacy is cooperating with an investigation by state authorities and the Food and Drug Administration.

The horses from the Venezuelan-owned Lechuza polo team began collapsing shortly before Sunday’s U.S. Open match was supposed to begin, shocking a crowd of well-heeled spectators at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.


Ex-chief of staff pleads not guilty

CHICAGO | A former chief of staff who served under ousted Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.

Alonzo Monk, 50, was silent for most of the five-minute arraignment Thursday. He did acknowledge that he was pleading not guilty.

Prosecutors have said publicly, though, they expect Mr. Monk to make a deal and take the stand as a government witness if the case goes to trial.

Mr. Monk is charged with one count of fraud in the sweeping 19-count corruption case.

Mr. Blagojevich and four other defendants earlier pleaded not guilty.


Craigslist suspect’s supporters rally

BOSTON | Police have said it was the Internet that got him in trouble, but now supporters of the man who has been accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist are going online to rally around him.

A new Facebook group called “Phil Markoff is Innocent Until Proven Guilty” describes itself as a forum to rally against the media and a culture “that has forgotten that people like Phil are suspects, not killers.”

Mr. Markoff, a Boston University medical student, is charged in the April 14 killing of Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old masseuse he met through Craigslist. He is also charged in a robbery of another masseuse he reportedly met through the online classified site. Police have said there could be more victims.

Mr. Markoff has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, armed robbery and kidnapping.


Adoptive mom taken into custody

DETROIT | The adoptive mother of a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose body was found in a plastic bag in a storage unit has been arrested in connection to her death, and is a blood relative of the girl, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The unidentified woman was arrested Wednesday after the discovery of Shylea Myza Thomas’s body, said Special Assistant Genesee County Prosecutor John Potbury. She faces charges ranging from misdemeanor moving a corpse to felony murder, he said.

Shylea’s body was found Wednesday in a plastic bag in a storage bin. Moth balls were scattered on top of the bag to mask any smells.


Students accused of frat branding

HENNIKER | Two college students have been arrested over a pledging ceremony where fraternity initiates were burned with a hot World War II-era bayonet, police said.

Henniker police said Nicholas Weiss, 25, and Kevin Phelps, 22, were each charged with four misdemeanor counts of student hazing this week. Police said the two used the heated bayonet to brand at least seven other New England College students at the Sigma Alpha Beta fraternity house last fall.

The seven who were branded were charged in March over a separate ceremony that took place that night.

Police started investigating after pledges went to the school infirmary with severe burns to their chests. One had burns to his buttocks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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