- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Banker admits to bribing mayor

BIRMINGHAM | An investment banker accused of bribing Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford has pleaded guilty and will cooperate with prosecutors.

William Blount on Tuesday admitted giving Mr. Langford thousands of dollars in exchange for Mr. Langford using his influence to send millions in bond financing business to Blount.

Mr. Langford was on the Jefferson County Commission at the time.

Blount pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy. For his help, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of four years and three months in prison. Blount will also forfeit $1 million.

Mr. Langford is set for trial on federal bribery charges Aug. 31. He said he is innocent and won’t resign.


Wildfire evacuees returning home

DAVENPORT | Nearly all residents have been allowed back into their homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where a wildfire once threatened their communities.

The fast-growing fire had prompted mandatory evacuations Thursday for the communities of Bonny Doon, Swanton and Last Chance Road.

Authorities started letting the more than 2,200 evacuees return home Sunday. By Tuesday morning, with the blaze 80 percent contained, only 20 people remain under evacuation orders.

The fire has burned more than 11 square miles and damaged or destroyed three outbuildings.

Some evacuation orders also have been lifted in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where a wildfire has charred about 5.6 square miles. The fire, which destroyed two homes Friday, is now 30 percent contained.


Two quakes strike state a day apart

CRAIG | The second earthquake to hit Colorado in two days has rattled the northwest corner of the state, but no damage has been reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 3.7-magnitude quake struck at 8:50 p.m. on Monday. The epicenter was 11 miles north of Craig and 150 miles west of Denver.

A 3.9 earthquake hit southeastern Colorado at 6:22 p.m. Sunday. No damage was reported.


3rd Disney employee dies during practice

ORLANDO | Walt Disney World canceled a stunt show Tuesday after an employee died during practice, the theme park’s third worker killed on the job this summer.

Disney said the deaths weren’t related, and federal investigators were treating them as separate accidents.

Anislav Varbanov suffered a head injury late Monday while rehearsing an acrobatic move in the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” and died a short time later. The move required Mr. Varbanov to jump into the air, dive over another performer and land in a tuck and roll onto a mat.


Man gets 25 years for transgender death

SYRACUSE | An upstate New York man has been sentenced to the maximum 25 years in prison for the hate crime killing of a transgender woman.

Dwight DeLee, 20, was found guilty of manslaughter last month for shooting Lateisha Green because of anti-gay bias. DeLee, a construction laborer, is the second person in the nation convicted of a hate crime for killing a transgender person. He was sentenced Tuesday in Syracuse by Judge William Walsh.

The 22-year-old Miss Green was born male, but lived mostly as a female after age 16. She was killed outside a house party in November.

DeLee was acquitted of murder. The manslaughter conviction means he intended to injure, not kill, someone when he fired into a car where Miss Green was sitting with her brother and a friend.


Judge overturns abortion law

OKLAHOMA CITY | An Oklahoma judge has overturned a law that required women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and a doctor’s description of the fetus.

Oklahoma County District Judge Vicki Robertson granted a permanent injunction against the law Tuesday afternoon. She said it violated constitutional requirements that legislative measures deal only with one subject. The law in question dealt with several topics involving abortion.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that it was not clear what the doctor should tell women undergoing the ultrasound.

The law was passed by lawmakers who overrode Gov. Brad Henry’s veto. Previous legal action prevented it from going into effect.


Gunman leaves money to university

PITTSBURGH | A gunman who committed suicide after killing three women and wounding nine others at a Pittsburgh-area health club wanted to leave his estimated $225,000 estate to the University of Pittsburgh.

Court papers were filed Friday by estate executor Michael Sodini. He is the brother of George Sodini, 48, who shot the 12 women Aug. 4 inside an LA Fitness club.

A legal expert tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the bequest is likely moot, because Sodini’s estate would probably be used to pay damages in any lawsuits that are filed. Also, a university spokesman said he isn’t sure the school would accept the money anyway.

Sodini graduated from Pitt in 1992 with a degree in computer science. He worked as a systems analyst at a Pittsburgh law firm since 1999.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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