- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Not guilty pleas in sitter porn case

SAN DIEGO | A man accused of paying baby sitters to bring him children to molest has pleaded not guilty to 20 criminal counts.

Jared Yaffe, 30, entered pleas Tuesday to child molestation, kidnapping for sexual acts and production of child pornography. He faces up to 129 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors contend Mr. Yaffe ran a child-porn ring last year and that his five victims included a 3-year-old. He was arrested in Brazil in May and is being held on $5 million bail.

Attorney Knut Johnson said outside court it was unclear whether he would continue to represent Mr. Yaffe.

Another man, Aaron Zendejas, 24, is accused of providing Mr. Yaffe with a victim and has pleaded not guilty to several charges.

FLORIDA

No buyers found for lone shark

MIAMI | A nurse shark was left lying in the middle of a downtown Miami street after two men tried to sell it to several fish markets.

The men apparently carried the 5- or 6-foot-long fish around on the city’s Metromover downtown train, prompting calls to police.

News footage Tuesday night showed the dead shark in the street with police officers and cruisers nearby. Two stations reported that a pair of men had tried to sell the carcass to at least three fish markets for about $10.

Rob Orta, an employee at Casablanca Fish Market, told television station WSVN that the men offered his business the shark. “But we don’t buy sharks off the street,” Mr. Orta told the station.

The case could result in misdemeanor charges of improper killing and disposal of an animal and selling a shark without a license.

GEORGIA

Mom, daughter killed by officer

DULUTH | Police said a 75-year-old woman and her daughter, 51, were fatally shot at a suburban Atlanta home after the younger woman pointed a gun at an officer.

Gwinnett County police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said an officer responded to a 911 call from Barbara Baker on Tuesday night, who reported that her daughter, 51-year-old Penny Schwartz, had threatened suicide and said she wanted police to kill her.

While the mother was talking with the officer, her daughter came downstairs and pointed a gun. Cpl. Spellman said the officer felt threatened and fired, hitting both women.

Cpl. Spellman said the officer will be placed on routine leave during a police investigation.

MONTANA

GM drops mine for foreign sources

BILLINGS | A federal bankruptcy judge has granted General Motors’ request to drop its precious metals contract with Montana’s Stillwater Mining Co. so it can use foreign suppliers instead. GM is keeping two precious metals suppliers from Russia and South Africa.

Stillwater attorney Garry Graber said the cancellation was approved Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

For a decade, Stillwater has supplied palladium and rhodium for use in catalytic converters that filter pollution from vehicle exhaust, but as GM emerges from federal bankruptcy protection, the automaker says it can no longer afford to keep Stillwater as a supplier.

In court filings, Stillwater argued GM was compelled to honor the contract as the recipient of up to $50 billion in government loans.

NEW JERSEY

Vegan group sues for frank warnings

NEWARK | Hot dogs may be as American as baseball and apple pie, but a national cancer- awareness group says such meat is hazardous and should carry warning labels.

The Washington-based Cancer Project, a vegan advocacy group, wants to force hot dog makers to use warning labels. The group filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Superior Court in Newark on behalf of three New Jersey residents. The defendants are Kraft Foods Inc., manufacturer of the Oscar Mayer brand; Sara Lee Corp.; Nathan’s Famous; and the makers of the Hebrew National and Sabrett brands.

The lawsuit cites a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research that concluded regular consumption of processed meat can increase the risk of colorectal and other forms of cancer.

NEW YORK

Attorney general suing 35 law firms

NEW YORK | New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing 35 law firms over what he says were botched attempts to collect debts from thousands of people.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn nearly 100,000 legal judgments entered against people who failed to respond to court claims about their debts.

Mr. Cuomo said many of those people didn’t reply because they didn’t know they were being sued. He said a Long Island company hired to serve legal papers on thousands of debtors wasn’t bothering to track them down.

That company, American Legal Process, of Lynbrook, already faces fraud charges. Now Mr. Cuomo wants all the judgments based on those tainted cases tossed out.

A lawyer for the company blamed the problems on a few bad employees.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Craigslist case takes new turn

COLUMBIA | South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who has threatened to prosecute Craigslist for prostitution-related ads, wants a federal judge to dismiss the company’s complaint against him, according to court papers filed Tuesday.

“The conduct targeted by the Attorney General enjoys no constitutional protection,” Mr. McMaster said in the court papers.

Mr. McMaster said the San Francisco-based company had not proven that he violated employees’ constitutional rights by threatening to prosecute prostitution-related ads.

In May, Mr. McMaster gave Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster a 10-day deadline to remove ads related to prostitution and pornography from its South Carolina Web sites or face possible charges.

The online advertising service then eliminated its “erotic services” category, pledging to screen submissions to a new “adult services” section before posting them. But Mr. McMaster said that wasn’t enough. He said he still intended to charge executives with aiding and abetting prostitution if an ad led to a South Carolina prostitution case.

After demanding an apology, Mr. Buckmaster sued McMaster, saying that threats of prosecution had violated employees’ constitutional rights to free speech and personal liberties.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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