- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Man denies terror charges

SANTA ANA | A man who authorities say is an in-law of an Osama bin Laden bodyguard has pleaded not guilty in California to charges that he lied on his U.S. citizenship and passport applications when he denied having terrorist ties.

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Ahmadullah Niazi was arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

The 34-year-old native of Afghanistan posted a $500,000 bond and was released Friday. His trial date is set for April 14.

Mr. Niazi’s sister is married to Amin al-Haq, identified in court papers as a high-ranking al Qaeda member who was thought to have been bin Laden’s bodyguard around Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Niazi became a U.S. citizen in 2004.

Muslim-American advocates contend that Mr. Niazi was charged because he refused to become a government informant.


Homeowner suit claims toxic drywall

MIAMI | A group of Florida homeowners filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against a German drywall maker, its Chinese subsidiaries and several U.S. homebuilders, saying that they put toxic drywall in thousands of U.S. homes.

The lawsuit says defective Chinese drywall that emits sulfur gases was used during a building materials shortage at the height of the construction boom and installed in thousands of homes, where it is corroding wiring, wrecking air conditioners and making residents sick.

The lawsuit, which could represent the owners of up to 30,000 Florida homes, names Knauf Gips KG and three Chinese units, Knauf Plasterboard (Wuhu), Knauf Plasterboard (Dongguan) and Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin), as well as homebuilders Tousa Homes Inc., TaylorWoodrow Communities and South Kendall Construction.

“This may be the worst case of defective houses in history,” said attorney Ervin Gonzalez, who filed the suit with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.


Madoff files to keep assets

NEW YORK | Bernard Madoff is seeking to keep a $7 million Manhattan penthouse and an additional $62 million in assets, saying they are unrelated to the fraud that authorities say cost victims more than $50 billion.

In court papers filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Mr. Madoff and his attorney say the apartment, $45 million in municipal bonds and $17 million more in a separate account all belong to Mr. Madoff’s wife, Ruth.

The bonds in an account held by Ruth Madoff at COHMAD Securities Corp. and about $17 million held by her in a Wachovia Bank account “are unrelated to the alleged Madoff fraud and only Ruth Madoff has a beneficial interest in these assets,” Bernard Madoff and lawyer Ira Sorkin said, according to the papers.

Mr. Sorkin declined to comment Monday.

A court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of Mr. Madoff’s assets has said the apartment and other property used to secure bail was off limits for now. But if there’s a conviction, those assets and possibly property of Madoff “insiders” could be seized to help pay claims by alleged victims.

“We are looking at every member of the Madoff family,” David Sheen, an attorney for the trustee, said recently regarding the personal property.


Judge rejects suit against university

TULSA | A judge has dismissed the final claims in a lawsuit filed against Oral Roberts University by a former school accountant who said he had been ordered to “cook the books.”

District Court Judge Michael Gassett threw out the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress Monday. Trent Huddleston’s claims of fraud and wrongful discharge were dismissed earlier.

An attorney for ORU says her clients “feel vindicated” by the ruling, while an attorney for Mr. Huddleston said he planned to appeal.

The lawsuit named former ORU President Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, among the two dozen defendants. Mr. Roberts resigned in 2007 and has denied accusations that he misspent school money.


11-year-old boy moved to new jail

PITTSBURGH | An 11-year-old western Pennsylvania boy accused of killing his father’s pregnant fiancee has been moved again, to a different juvenile detention center.

Jordan Brown was moved early Monday from a juvenile facility northwest of Pittsburgh to a center in Erie.

Last week, Jordan was moved from the adult lockup in Lawrence County to a juvenile facility in neighboring Beaver County. However, it would have cost about $4,500 a week to keep him there.

Jordan’s attorney says the Erie juvenile facility, about 125 miles north of Pittsburgh, is cheaper and better equipped to serve the boy’s needs.

Jordan is accused of killing 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk and her unborn son on Feb. 20.


13-year-old safe after night in forest

SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL FOREST | A 13-year-old boy who became disoriented during a map-reading exercise in a national forest was found safe Monday after spending the night alone in near-freezing temperatures.

Cody Moore, a member of a junior ROTC unit, appeared alert while sitting on a stretcher inside an ambulance. A woman who appeared to be a relative said he was fine and eating a doughnut.

Helicopters, horses and dogs had been searching for Cody since he was reported missing about 5 p.m. Sunday. Temperatures early Monday morning dipped below freezing.

A hovering search helicopter apparently alerted the boy Monday, said Duane Adams, director of the weekend exercise in using maps and compasses to navigate.

“He came out waving his hands and walking on his own,” Mr. Adams said. “The helicopter hovered over him and the ground crew went in to get him.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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