- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spitzer documents may stay sealed

NEW YORK | An appeals court said the federal government does not have to release information about wiretaps from the investigation that brought down former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found Friday that the New York Times had not shown it had a First Amendment right to the material.

A lower court had ordered the release of the FBI documents, which could reveal details about the origins and scope of the investigation.

The Times said it was disappointed and was reviewing the decision. It said public access to such records would provide “a valuable check on law enforcement agencies and on the courts.”

The documents named other clients of the Emperor’s Club VIP prostitution service.

David A. Paterson became governor in March 2008 after Mr. Spitzer resigned in disgrace.

Cleric admits aiding terrorists

NEW YORK | An ailing Yemeni cleric once sentenced to 75 years in prison in a high-profile U.S. terrorism prosecution quietly won his freedom Friday in a plea deal in federal court.

Sheik Mohammed Ali Hasan al-Moayad and his assistant pleaded guilty to conspiring to support violence by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. In exchange, they were sentenced to time served - more than six years - and will be sent back to Yemen within a few days.

An appeals court had thrown out earlier convictions of al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Zayed, who was serving a 45-year term. Prosecutors told the judge that they concluded another trial was not necessary as long as the men finally admitted they were trying to raise money for terrorism.

Guards, prisoners reunite on Alcatraz

SAN FRANCISCO | Former guards, prisoners and other Alcatraz residents are traveling to “The Rock” this weekend to commemorate its 75th anniversary as a federal prison.

Many of those who planned to attend are children of guards who grew up on the island and are known as the Island Gang.

The event is open to the public, but sold out weeks ago.

Alcatraz started as a fort, then became an Army disciplinary barracks. The Bureau of Prisons took over in 1934 and housed some of the nation’s most notorious inmates there, including Al Capone.

It later was occupied by American Indians for 18 months. The island became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1973 and remains a popular tourist destination.

Mays autopsy finds cocaine use

TAMPA, Fla. | An autopsy found that cocaine use contributed to the heart disease that suddenly killed TV pitchman Billy Mays in June, officials announced Friday.

The Hillsborough County medical examiner’s office previously determined that the bearded, boisterous TV spokesman had a heart attack in his sleep. His wife found him unresponsive in bed in their Tampa condo June 28.

Mr. Mays was a pop-culture fixture with his energetic commercials pitching gadgets and cleaning products like Orange Glo and OxiClean.

While heart disease was the primary cause of death, a report released Friday by the medical examiner listed cocaine as a “contributory cause of death.”

The office said Mr. Mays last used cocaine in the few days before his death but was not under the influence of the drug when he died. Hillsborough County spokeswoman Lori Hudson said nothing in the toxicology report indicated the frequency of Mr. Mays’ cocaine use.

City settles suit in taped beating

NEW ORLEANS | The city has agreed to a settlement with a retired teacher who sued over his videotaped beating by police officers in the city’s French Quarter several weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

A trial for Robert Davis’ federal lawsuit against the city and a former New Orleans police officer was scheduled to start Monday, but a notice of the tentative settlement was filed Friday.

Terms of the agreement won’t be disclosed, said Franz Zibilich, an attorney for the city. One of Mr. Davis’ lawyers didn’t immediately return a call for comment Friday.

“It was a situation wherein it was in the best interests of all parties to resolve this matter,” Mr. Zibilich said.

A ruling Thursday by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman dismissed some of the claims Mr. Davis filed against the city. But Judge Feldman refused to throw out the entire case against the city or dismiss former Police Officer Robert Evangelist as a defendant.

Officer Evangelist and other police officers were accused of using excessive force while arresting Mr. Davis on Oct. 8, 2005. The incident was taped by an Associated Press Television News crew covering the aftermath of the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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