- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009


Ex-House speaker charged with perjury

TALLAHASSEE | A grand jury has charged former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom with perjury in an indictment related to $6 million that Mr. Sansom steered to Northwest Florida State College for an aircraft hangar.

Also being indicted is Mr. Sansom’s friend and political supporter Jay Odom, who is charged with official misconduct.

Mr. Odom sought and failed to get government money for the hangar. Mr. Sansom later stuck an appropriation in the 2007-08 state budget for the project.

Mr. Sansom stepped down as speaker in January, a little more than two months after taking the office. In addition to the hangar, Mr. Sansom steered millions more to the school when he chaired the House Budget and Policy Council. He then accepted a $110,000 job at the school on the same day that he formally became speaker.


Turnout small for all-digital vote

HONOLULU | Only 6.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in what officials say was the nation’s first all-digital election.

The results of 22 Oahu Neighborhood Commission races released late Tuesday showed only about 7,300 of the 115,000 eligible voters cast ballots online or by phone.

Neighborhood Commission executive director Joan Manke said she is “very disappointed” with the turnout. She said voters weren’t used to a new way of choosing candidates.

In the 2007 neighborhood elections, turnout was 28 percent with voters choosing either paper or online ballots.


Swine flu deaths hit 101 worldwide

CHICAGO | A second person in Illinois has died from complications of swine flu - pushing the world’s death toll past 100.

Illinois officials said the latest victim was a woman from northwestern suburban Cook County who had other medical problems that might have made her illness more severe.

The death reported Wednesday was the 15th in the U.S. and the 101st worldwide linked to the virus that has sickened more than 12,000 people. The deaths of two more New Yorkers were linked Tuesday to swine flu.

Elsewhere, 83 deaths in Mexico, two in Canada and one in Costa Rica have been linked to swine flu.


12 charged in labor trafficking

KANSAS CITY | Twelve people - eight of them from Uzbekistan - are accused in a federal indictment of luring illegal immigrants to the U.S. to work as “modern-day slaves” in 14 states.

Prosecutors announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Kansas City issued a 45-count indictment May 6 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that included charges of labor racketeering, forced labor trafficking and immigration violations.

Matt Whitworth, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said Wednesday that the defendants used false information to obtain fake work visas for the foreign workers, who were then threatened with deportation while living in substandard apartments and working for inadequate pay.

The indictment says the conspiracy involved fraudulent labor leasing contracts in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wyoming.


Girl, 7, drives for help after crash

CLOVIS | A 7-year-old girl survived a crash that killed her father and drove the family’s damaged vehicle to get help, police said.

State police Capt. Jimmy Glascock said Guillermo Montes, 40, of Bovina, Texas, was thrown out of the vehicle Saturday night when it went off a highway and rolled over, coming to rest in a field in Curry County.

Capt. Glascock said Elizabeth Kazza realized her father was dead and drove for about three miles until a passing motorist spotted her.

Authorities found Mr. Montes dead at the scene. The girl and her 4-year-old brother were treated for minor injuries.

State police said Wednesday that Elizabeth told officers that her dad was driving to Clovis, about 25 miles from Bovina, to get beer when they crashed.

They said alcohol was thought to be a factor in the crash. Capt. Glascock said that beer bottles were found at the scene and that Elizabeth and her younger brother said Mr. Montes was drinking as he drove.


Filmmaker ordered away from Giuliani

SOUTHAMPTON | A New York judge has issued an order of protection, instructing a Long Island filmmaker to stay away from former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his wife.

John McCluskey was given the order Wednesday during his arraignment on a charge of second-degree harassment. Mr. McCluskey, who pleaded not guilty, was arrested last weekend after confronting Mr. Giuliani and his wife, Judith, on a street in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

Mr. McCluskey concedes that he told the former mayor he was not a fan of his but denies that any physical contact ever took place. He added that the order of protection was not necessary because he has no intentions of ever seeing Mr. Giuliani again.


Majority in poll back gay marriage law

PROVIDENCE | A survey has found that more than half of Rhode Island voters favor a law allowing gay marriage.

A Brown University poll released Wednesday shows 60 percent of registered voters in the state said they would support a law allowing gay couples to marry. Thirty-one percent said they were opposed.

Bills to legalize gay marriage in the state are before legislative committees in both the House and Senate.

The poll was conducted May 18 to 20 with a random sample of 593 registered voters statewide. The margin of error was about four percentage points.

New Hampshire lawmakers are working to pass a gay marriage bill that the governor will sign.


Charity members sentenced to prison

DALLAS | Two founding members of what was once the nation’s largest Muslim charity were each sentenced to 65 years in prison Wednesday for funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Shukri Abu Baker, 50, and Ghassan Elashi, 55, were among the five members of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development sentenced to prison Wednesday.

The men and Holy Land were convicted in November on 108 charges, after a mistrial in which the government in 2007 failed to convince jurors that the charity sent more than $12 million to Hamas.

Mufid Abdulqader, 49, was sentenced to 20 years on three conspiracy counts. Mohammad El-Mezain, 55, got 15 years for one count of conspiracy to support a terrorist organization. Abdulrahman Odeh got 15 years for three conspiracy counts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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