- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2009

CONNECTICUT

Student disappears days before wedding

NEW HAVEN | Police used search dogs and reviewed security camera footage as they tried to find a 24-year-old Yale University graduate student who vanished less than a week before her scheduled wedding.

Annie Le, a doctoral student in pharmacology, was last seen at her laboratory Tuesday, and her purse, cell phone, credit cards and money were found in her office. Miss Le, who planned to get married on Sunday, has not contacted her family, co-workers or friends.

State police with bloodhounds searched the area where Miss Le was last seen, and authorities are continuing to search nearby, Yale Police Chief James Perotti said. The FBI was assisting, and investigators also were reviewing images from closed-circuit cameras, Chief Perotti said. Miss Le’s fiance, professors, colleagues, friends and family also were helping.

FLORIDA

Drug kingpin admits trafficking in plea

TAMPA | A Colombian drug kingpin reputed to be one of the largest cocaine traffickers in the world has forfeited more than $15 million in assets, including an island and other properties in Miami and Latin America, and pleaded guilty to trafficking charges, according to a plea agreement filed Wednesday.

Fabio Enrique Ochoa-Vasco entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Tampa 20 years after he was first indicted in Florida on drug trafficking charges. Authorities have described him as the head of one of the most powerful Medellin-based drug trafficking organizations. He remained a fugitive until his surrender earlier this year.

According to the 31-page agreement, Ochoa-Vasco, 48, has been involved in trafficking cocaine into the U.S. from South America since at least 1978. He became the leader of his own trafficking organization 10 years later, transporting cocaine in speed and fishing boats through the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean to Central America.

GEORGIA

Commission votes to suspend educators

ATLANTA | The Georgia Professional Standards Commission has temporarily suspended the teaching licenses of two DeKalb County educators accused in a cheating scandal.

The commission voted Thursday on a two-year suspension for former Atherton Elementary Principal James Berry, and a one-year suspension for former Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander.

A state audit released in June showed answers on fifth-grade math tests at Georgia elementary schools were changed last summer to improve students’ scores and avoid federal sanctions. State officials do not think students were involved.

Mr. Berry and Miss Alexander have been charged with tampering with state documents, which is a felony.

LOUISIANA

Settlement OK’ed for Katrina damage

NEW ORLEANS | A federal judge has given final approval to a $20 million settlement of class-action lawsuits against several Louisiana levee boards. The suits were filed on behalf of about 500,000 homeowners whose property was damaged by Hurricane Katrina flooding.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Joseph Bruno said a court-appointed “special master” will decide how to distribute proceeds from the settlement with the Orleans, East Jefferson and Lake Borgne parishes.

Mr. Bruno said he doesn’t know how many property owners will benefit from the settlement. He also said an appeal could delay the process.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval gave final approval of the deal on Wednesday. The settlement doesn’t involve separate claims against the Army Corps of Engineers over damage from levee failures.

MICHIGAN

Tentative deal reached in strike

ROCHESTER | Students reported for class Thursday at a suburban Detroit university hours after professors reached a tentative agreement that ended a weeklong strike.

A union official and a statement posted on Oakland University’s Web site said terms of the three-year deal won’t be disclosed until the agreement is ratified by the union that represents 450 faculty members at the public four-year institution. The union likely will not ratify the deal until the end of this month, said Liz Barclay, a member of the union’s executive bargaining team.

Professors on the 18,000-student campus went on strike Sept. 3, the day classes were to begin, after the university proposed a three-year wage freeze along with cuts in health insurance benefits.

Negotiators resolved a number of issues, including compensation, said Virinder Moudgil, the university’s senior vice president and provost.

NEBRASKA

Jury acquits accused CSI chief

OMAHA | A federal jury acquitted a Nebraska crime-scene investigator accused of falsifying records in a 2006 double-murder and depriving two men initially charged in the slayings of their rights.

A jury of eight men and four women took little more than an hour to return not guilty verdicts Thursday on all four counts against Douglas County CSI commander David Kofoed.

Mr. Kofoed, 52, was charged in April with falsifying records, mail fraud and two counts of civil rights violations. The charges stemmed from his work investigating the murders of a couple in nearby Cass County more than three years ago.

OHIO

Zoo’s cheetah sets speed record

CINCINNATI | The Cincinnati Zoo says one of its cheetahs has become the fastest land mammal on record - twice.

Zoo officials said an 8-year-old female named Sarah ran 100 meters in just over 6 seconds on Wednesday. That breaks the record set in 2001 by a cheetah in South Africa by a few hundredths of a second.

Later, Sarah ran a slightly faster time. The speed translates to more than 36 mph.

The human 100-meter record holder is Usain Bolt of Jamaica. He’s a relative slowpoke at over 9 seconds.

WISCONSIN

Suspect faces more killing charges

MILWAUKEE | A suspected serial killer has been charged in the slayings of five more women in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Thursday that he filed the additional charges against Walter E. Ellis, who now faces five counts of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree murder, the equivalent charge that was state law when the deaths occurred.

Mr. Ellis, 49, is suspected in a string of killings from 1986 to 2007. Police said his DNA was found on the bodies of nine women ages 16 to 41.

Investigators think eight of the women were prostitutes who were strangled, and one was a runaway whose throat was cut.

Also Thursday, Chaunte D. Ott, 35, who served 13 years in prison before his homicide conviction was overturned, sued the city of Milwaukee and its police department days after authorities arrested Mr. Ellis, whose DNA, police say, links him to the killing.

He claims in the federal lawsuit that officers coerced two people to give false testimony and failed to intervene when tests after his conviction showed he did not commit the crime.

The Oak Creek man was convicted in 1995 in the death of Jessica Payne, a 16-year-old runaway found partially nude with her throat slit.

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