- - Sunday, September 18, 2011


Two accused of using corpse’s card for bar tab

DENVER — Two men accused of driving around with a dead friend and using his ATM card to withdraw $400 at a strip club are charged with abusing a corpse, identity theft and criminal impersonation.

Robert Young and Mark Rubinson are free on bond but couldn’t be reached for comment.

It’s unclear how Jeffrey Jarrett died, but the men aren’t charged in his death.

An affidavit accuses the pair of a real-life version of the film “Weekend at Bernie’s” — leaving Jarrett’s body in the car while they drank at a bar on his tab last month.

Investigators allege the men stopped at a restaurant, dropped his body off at his home and then headed to the strip club before reporting Jarrett’s death.


Ex-congressman gets probation in funds case

ATLANTA — Former U.S. Rep. Pat Swindall has been sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of being involved in illegal campaign contributions.

The Daily Report said in its Friday edition that Mr. Swindall was sentenced Aug. 26 in a scheme alleged to have routed $8,000 in campaign contributions to former Atlanta City Council member Joyce Sheperd.

The newspaper reported that prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges in return for Mr. Swindall’s guilty pleas to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit a crime and two counts of exceeding the maximum allowable campaign contribution.

The sentence came after Mr. Swindall and prosecutors agreed to an Alford plea, a legal maneuver that lets Mr. Swindall maintain his innocence while acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence against him.

Mr. Swindall represented a suburban Atlanta district from 1985 to 1989. He later served one year in federal prison after he was convicted in 1992 of perjury.


Asbestos victims win $43M settlement

BILLINGS — A Montana judge has approved a $43 million settlement for more than a thousand asbestos victims who said the state failed to warn Libby residents about the dangers of a nearby vermiculite mine.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock in Helena approved the deal Sept. 8. He had dismissed the victim’s claims nine years ago in a decision later overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Judge Sherlock also approved attorney fees previously reported at $14 million.

The Daily Inter Lake first reported the settlement.

An estimated 400 people have died and 1,750 have been sickened by asbestos released from a now-shuttered W.R. Grace mine.

Dust from the mine once blanketed the small community about 50 miles south of the Canadian border. Cleanup continues at a cost to date topping $370 million.


Onetime 9/11 hero gets prison in bribe case

NEW YORK — A former government official hailed for helping two people escape the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, was sentenced Friday to at least a year in prison, his second term behind bars after two separate bribery cases turned his story of heroism into a tale of graft in the wake of the attacks.

Friday’s sentencing was specifically about a case in which Mark Jakubek took payoffs to let a company overbill for work on the trade center cleanup and other projects, but it was peppered with broader references to the terrorist attacks and Jakubek’s role in rescuing people from them.

While Jakubek said he was suffering continuing psychological problems from the disaster, a prosecutor questioned whether his valor had been overstated.

Jakubek, 52, said that his legal problems had cost him his job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and ended his 22-year marriage.


Air race crash scene shows impact’s violence

RENO — The scene of a Reno air race crash that killed nine people reveals the violence of the plane’s missilelike impact — a crater in the tarmac roughly 3 feet deep and 8 feet across with debris spread out over more than an acre.

From a tour of the site, it appeared that the 1940s-model plane went straight down in the first few rows of VIP box seats, based on the crater’s location.

The plane hit about 65 feet in front of the leading edge of the grandstand where thousands were watching Friday as the planes sped by just a few hundred feet above the ground.

Some members of the crowd reported noticing a strange gurgling engine noise from above before the P-51 Mustang, dubbed the Galloping Ghost, pitched violently upward, twirled and took an immediate nose dive into the crowd.

The plane, flown by a 74-year-old veteran racer and Hollywood stunt pilot, disintegrated in a ball of dust, debris and bodies as screams spread through the crowd.

The death toll rose to nine Saturday as investigators determined that several onlookers were killed on impact as the plane appeared to lose a piece of its tail before slamming into the crowded tarmac.


UMass gives scholarships to bullied boy’s siblings

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts says it is offering full scholarships to the siblings of a Springfield boy who hanged himself in 2009 after incessant bullying at school.

UMass officials say they are honored to have a chance to help the family of Carl Walker-Hoover, who was 11 when he committed suicide. His mother, Sirdeaner Walker, has become an anti-bullying advocate and has testified before state and federal officials about the topic.

UMass said her other two children, 8-year-old Charles and 7-year-old Gloria, will be invited to attend any of its campuses with their entire tuition, room, board and fees covered for four years.

Crews from ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” also have been rebuilding the family’s home, which had significant structural problems and was more than 100 years old.


Rare minnows saved from long drought

FORT WORTH — Wildlife biologists scooped up minnows from a shrinking Texas river Friday in one of the first rescues of fish threatened by the state’s worst drought in decades.

Hundreds of smalleye shiners and sharpnose shiners were collected from the Brazos River, about 175 miles northwest of Fort Worth. They will be taken to the state’s fish hatchery but returned to the river when the drought abates.

Scientists waded through the muddy river bed to reach the shallow pools of water, where they used a large net to scoop up the finger-size fish and put them in buckets.

With the water drying up in the drought, the fish don’t have the 100 miles of river they need to reproduce. And, their life span is just two years, so scientists are scrambling to save the two species.

Both are candidates to be listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. While they are the most abundant fish in the upper Brazos, they are found nowhere else in the world.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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