- - Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Nogales mayor held in bribery case

PHOENIX | The mayor of Nogales was arrested Tuesday on multiple charges including bribery, theft, fraud and money laundering, Arizona’s attorney general said.

Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel, 29, was taken into custody at his office at Nogales City Hall. Search warrants were executed at the mayor’s home, business and office.

The mayor’s father, Octavio Suarez Garcia, 59, of Nogales, was also indicted and arrested Tuesday. He faces several charges that include fraud, theft and money laundering.


State put interns in poor schools

SAN FRANCISCO | A federal appeals court has ruled that California illegally classified interns as “highly qualified” teachers and assigned them to schools in low-income and minority areas.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in favor of poor families who claimed the state was dumping uncredentialed teachers on their schools.

A Bush administration policy adopted by a California commission held that interns on track to receive teaching certification could count as “highly qualified.”

The court found that those policies violated the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires teachers to have full state certification to teach core subjects.

Evidence cited by the court showed 62 percent of the interns teach in the poorest half of California schools.


Shooting rocks busy city corridor

Chaos broke out in the busy U Street corridor of Northwest Washington on Tuesday, with a shooting and a subsequent car crash that left at least one person dead near a funeral for a young woman who was recently fatally shot.

Police said a suspect was being sought and they were looking into the possibility that the shooting was gang-related. D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who represents the area, was told the violence was the result of “the continuing feud between two rival gangs.” One gang was apparently at the funeral when the other showed up, Mr. Graham said.

Relatives identified the dead person as an attendee at the funeral named Jamal Coates, 21.

The shooting broke out sometime after noon at 13th and U streets NW, near two landmarks, the Lincoln Theatre and Ben’s Chili Bowl.


Woman pleads guilty in glass-eating case

BOSTON | A Massachusetts woman admits that she and her husband intentionally ate glass particles, then submitted false insurance claims.

Mary Evano pleaded guilty Tuesday to a 23-count indictment charging her with fraud, conspiracy and other offenses.

The indictment alleged that between 1997 and 2005, the couple collected more than $200,000 in compensation after filing insurance claims that they had been injured by restaurants, hotels and grocery stores that had served them food containing glass particles.

Evano’s husband, Ronald Evano, pleaded guilty in 2007 and was sentenced to at least five years in prison.

Mary Evano is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 21.

Prosecutors say the couple incurred more than $100,000 in medical bills, which remain unpaid.


Autopsy clears wife in spouse death

FARMINGTON HILLS | A lawyer whose widow was charged with murdering him died of complications from an old wound — not homicide — authorities said Tuesday, a day after she was released from jail hours after missing the funeral.

An autopsy determined that Lloyd Johnson, 47, died last week of complications from an open wound on his lower back sustained years ago when he was pierced by a boat oar, Oakland County medical examiner L.J. Dragovic said.

Mr. Johnson weighed 413 pounds and had other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cirrhosis, he said.

Prosecutors charged Laura Johnson, 46, with second-degree murder, manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license after police said they found scalpels, bloody bedding and what appeared to be refrigerated human tissue in the couple’s home in Farmington Hills.

Mrs. Johnson’s mother, Josephine Michalik, told the Associated Press on Friday that Mr. Johnson had been hospitalized several times during the past two years for treatment of the wound, and that his doctors authorized her daughter to perform in-home care.

She was released from jail on bail Monday hours after her husband’s funeral.

Defense lawyer John Williams said the autopsy amounts to “total vindication” for her, and he expects the charges to be quickly dropped. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.


County ousts convicted sheriff

ST. LOUIS | A southern Illinois county has fired its jailed sheriff, welcoming the news of his marijuana-trafficking and murder-for-hire convictions as the legal justification to finally oust the law officer who steadfastly refused to step down for more than a year.

The five-member Gallatin County Board didn’t squander the opportunity Monday night to finally rid itself of Raymond Martin and his $40,000-a-year salary, unanimously agreeing during a special meeting lasting less than 10 minutes that their sheriff since 1990 was a disgrace and must go.

The action came four days after Martin, 48, was convicted on 15 felony counts related to trafficking marijuana while on the job and his ensuing foiled attempt to have potential witnesses against him killed. Ten of the counts carry possible life terms, and Martin could be fined up to $3.5 million when sentenced in January.

Martin has been jailed since his May 2009 arrest on the marijuana charges. Despite that and subsequent allegations of his behind-bars plots to kill, Martin clung to his job and still got his salary.

The county had determined Martin was legally entitled to those as en elected official until he either resigned or was convicted.


Group tries to stop roundup at refuge

RENO | Animal protection advocates are trying to block roundups of wild horses after the federal government quietly gathered nearly 400 mustangs at a national wildlife refuge on the Nevada-Oregon line.

Laura Leigh of the group Grass Roots Horse says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gathered the horses at the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge last week without public notice or any accountability.

Paul Steblein, the agency’s project leader in Sheldon, confirmed 396 horses were removed from the refuge last week. He says the roundup was part of a management plan approved in 2008 calling for a reduction of the horse population by 2011.

Mr. Steblein said the horses compete with native wildlife for forage and damage water sources.


Abercrombie fined on immigration issue

COLUMBUS | A federal agency is issuing a $1 million fine against Abercrombie & Fitch over the way the clothing retailer kept track of the employment eligibility of its workers.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office said Tuesday that the fine stems from an inspection of Abercrombie’s stores in Michigan.

The agency says it found nothing to indicate that the New Albany, Ohio-based company knowingly hired any illegal immigrants.

Investigators said Abercrombie has taken steps to correct its immigration compliance program.

Both sides agreed to the amount of the fine.

An Abercrombie spokesman declined to comment.


New vision given for high-speed rail

PHILADELPHIA | Amtrak on Tuesday unveiled a $117 billion, 30-year vision for a high-speed rail line on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor using trains traveling up to 220 miles per hour.

The proposal, which would require building a new set of tracks from Boston to Washington, D.C., is at the concept stage and there’s no funding plan in place, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said at a news conference at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The project would likely use some combination of public and private investment and hopefully be phased in starting in 2015, he said.

The Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would have hubs in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington and would cut travel times in half or better. It would reduce the travel time between Washington and New York from 162 minutes to 96 minutes, according to Amtrak. The travel time between New York and Boston would go from 215 minutes to 84 minutes.

About 12 million riders a year use Amtrak along the Northeast Corridor.

Under the high-speed system envisioned, the trains would be able to accommodate about 33.7 million passengers by 2040. Amtrak officials estimated the high-speed system would generate an $900 million more a year with the added ridership.


Plural family probed for bigamy

SALT LAKE CITY | A bigamy investigation has begun, targeting a polygamous family starring in a reality television show, police said Tuesday.

Lehi police Lt. Darren Paul has said the probe was triggered by the reality television show “Sister Wives,” which features advertising salesman Kody Brown, 41, and his four wives, 13 children and three stepchildren. The TLC program premiered Sunday.

Mr. Brown is only legally married to Meri Paul, but also calls three other women his spouses: Janelle, Christine and Robyn. The three stepchildren are from Robyn’s previous relationship.

Christine Brown declined to comment Tuesday, although the family issued a statement through TLC that it was disappointed.

“… When we decided to do this show, we knew there would be risks,” the family said. “But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”

The Browns have said they hoped that the reality show’s peek into their lives would help broaden the public’s understanding of plural families.


Log Cabin syrup to heed complaint

MONTPELIER | Under fire in maple syrup country, the maker of Log Cabin All Natural Syrup said Tuesday it’s getting rid of the product’s caramel coloring in response to complaints by producers of the real thing.

That may not be enough. Officials in Vermont — the nation’s largest producer of pure maple syrup — say the Pinnacle Foods product’s label and packaging are still misleading to consumers and violate the state’s maple syrup labeling regulations.

“By continuing to market its product with juglike packaging and all-natural labeling, Pinnacle leaves consumers with the impression that Log Cabin table syrup and Vermont maple syrup are one and the same,” said U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont Democrat. “As Vermonters know, they’re not even close. It’s time for Pinnacle to stop misleading customers and stop imitating the Vermont maple industry.”

Vermont maple syrup is made from maple tree sap that’s boiled down and has no artificial ingredients. The state’s producers churn out about 710,000 gallons of the product annually.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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