- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

ALASKA

State to sue over whale protection

ANCHORAGE | The state of Alaska says it will go to court to challenge the federal decision to protect beluga whales in Cook Inlet under the Endangered Species Act.

The state said Wednesday it wants the federal government to withdraw its decision to list the inlet’s population of the small whales as threatened.

Gov. Sarah Palin has said she opposes the listing of the Cook Inlet belugas because of the effect it could have on development. The city of Anchorage is on Cook Inlet.

The population of the white whales in the inlet has been declining for years and is estimated at fewer than 300.

Scientists said if nothing changes, the Cook Inlet whales are headed toward extinction. The government listing does not apply to belugas elsewhere around Alaska and the Arctic.

CALIFORNIA

Actor Montalban dies at age 88

LOS ANGELES | Actor Ricardo Montalban, best known as the mysterious Mr. Roarke on the popular television series “Fantasy Island,” died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 88.

The Mexican-born Mr. Montalban had a long career in entertainment but found broad fame as the star of ABC’s “Fantasy Island” in which he fulfilled the dreams of his guests with the help of his sidekick, Tattoo. The series aired from January 1977 to May 1984.

He was also known during the 1970s as a TV spokesman for Chrysler and played a villain in “Star Trek,” both on television and in a feature film.

The Emmy-winning actor died at about 6:30 a.m. of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by members of his family, a spokesman told Reuters.

FLORIDA

Money manager charged in crash

CHATTAHOOCHEE | Federal authorities have charged an Indiana money manager with faking a distress call from the air and intentionally wrecking his plane.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Scott Wilson said the charges were filed against Marcus Schrenker, 38, on Wednesday afternoon.

He said Mr. Schrenker is expected to appear in a Florida court later this week.

Authorities tracked Mr. Schrenker to a campground in north Florida last night after a three-day run. They suspect he parachuted from his small plane in Alabama, then left it on autopilot to crash in Florida as part of a bid to stage his death amid mounting personal and professional problems.

NEW JERSEY

Nazi-named kids removed from home

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP | Three New Jersey siblings whose names have Nazi connotations have been placed in the custody of the state, police said.

The children, ranging in age from 3 to under 1, were removed from their home Friday. They drew attention last month when a supermarket bakery refused to put the name of the oldest - Adolf Hitler Campbell - on a birthday cake.

State workers didn’t tell police why the children were taken, police Sgt. John Harris said. A family court hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The other two children, both girls, are JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell.

The father, Heath Campbell, had no comment when contacted by the Express-Times of Easton, Pa.

Kate Bernyk, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Youth and Family Services, said the agency doesn’t comment on specific cases.

NEVADA

Man gets prison in frying-pan attack

LAS VEGAS | The husband of a former Nevada state judge was sentenced Wednesday to three to 10 years in prison for hitting his wife in the head with a frying pan at their home.

Edward Lee Halverson, 49, said he “clocked” former judge Elizabeth Halverson on Sept. 4 because she threatened to stab him.

“If she wouldn’t have pulled a knife on me and threatened me, I wouldn’t have clocked her,” Halverson said, standing in shackles before the judge. “I defended myself.”

Mrs. Halverson, who was banned from the bench for mishandling cases and mistreating staff, uses bottled oxygen and a motorized scooter.

OKLAHOMA

Man held in Texas in killing of five

EL RENO | A man charged with strangling his girlfriend and her four young children was in a Texas jail Wednesday awaiting extradition to Oklahoma, where investigators had not yet determined the motive for the killings.

The woman had planned to break up with the suspect, her mother said Wednesday.

Joshua Steven Durcho, 25, was arrested Tuesday night in Texas’ Hamilton County after his car hit a guardrail and a tree after he had passed a state trooper, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger.

Mr. Durcho was treated for minor injuries and was being held without bail at the Hamilton County jail.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Durcho with five counts of first-degree murder Tuesday, a day after an El Reno police officer conducting a welfare check found Summer Garas, 25, and her children dead in their apartment in the Oklahoma City suburb. The children ranged in age from 3 to 7.

Each charge listed strangulation as the cause of death.

MISSOURI

Woman accused of running hooker ring

ST. LOUIS | A woman who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Kansas City is accused of running an online prostitution business through her government office computer.

Federal prosecutors Wednesday announced the indictment of Laurie Lynn McConnell of Kansas City on charges related to prostitution and money laundering.

Miss McConnell, 26, was a statistician for the USDA Risk Management Agency until April.

The indictment purports that she and a Kansas City man who did not work for the USDA ran online prostitution businesses, hiring women to work as prostitutes in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.

Miss McConnell and the man, identified as John O. Miller, 36, were arrested Wednesday.

WISCONSIN

Mayor held on child porn charges

RACINE | State agents arrested the mayor of this southeastern Wisconsin city and planned to charge him with child pornography, attempted sexual assault and other counts, authorities said Wednesday.

Mayor Gary Becker, a Democrat, was arrested late Tuesday at a shopping mall in Brookfield, a Milwaukee suburb. He was being held Wednesday in the Kenosha County Jail on a $165,000 cash bond.

He faced tentative charges of attempted sexual assault of a child, child enticement, possession of child pornography, official misconduct and other counts, according to a news release by the state Department of Justice.

Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said he expected to file formal charges by Thursday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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