- - Monday, April 30, 2012

CLEVELAND — A federal judge is weighing the government’s request to require a suspect in beard- and hair-cutting attacks against fellow Amish in Ohio to hire a private attorney.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing last week that Sam Mullet Sr. recently received more than $2 million from gas and oil leases on his property.

Prosecutors said Mr. Mullet was able to obtain a public defender by being less than forthcoming about his financial situation.

Prosecutors also said Mr. Mullet should not be released on bond because of the possibility he could hide himself on his 800-acre property in eastern Ohio and try to avoid attending his trial.

Mr. Mullet’s attorney argued that the $2 million is enough to ensure a sizable cash bond for his client to be freed.


Japanese man sentenced in turtle smuggling case

LOS ANGELES — A Japanese man has been sentenced in Los Angeles to nearly two years in prison for smuggling 55 live turtles and tortoises from his country into the United States by hiding them in snack food boxes.

Atsushi Yamagami was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay about $18,000 in fines. He pleaded guilty in August to one felony count of smuggling.

Yamagami and Norihide Ushirozako were arrested in January 2011 at Los Angeles International Airport as part of an undercover investigation called Operation Flying Turtle.


Mother, son killed in accidents hours apart

WEST ALLIS — A Wisconsin woman and her adult son were killed in separate traffic crashes just hours apart in a Milwaukee suburb, police said Monday.

Mary J. Moore, 45, died after she was struck by a vehicle on a street in West Allis. A friend was speeding her son, Thomas M. Olson, 22, to the hospital to see her when he struck three parked cars and overturned, West Allis Deputy Chief Charles Padgett said. Mr. Olson was killed in the crash about 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Chief Padgett said Mr. Olson knew his mother had been hit, but he wasn’t sure whether the son knew she had died.

The driver of the car Mr. OIson was riding in was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He and two other passengers were injured.

Ms. Moore was hit as she lay in the street. A motorist following the car that struck her told police it looked as though the vehicle hit a speed bump, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s report. The witness did not realize that it was a person until getting closer, the report said.

Chief Padgett said Ms. Moore had been drinking before she was hit, but it’s not clear how much. An autopsy was expected to be done Monday.

The driver that hit Ms. Moore drove off, but officers later found and arrested the person they think is responsible. That driver also may have been drinking, authorities said.


Police department has two unused surveillance craft

GADSDEN — An Alabama police chief says he recently discovered that his department has two unmanned aerial vehicles.

Gadsden Police Chief John Crane tells the Gadsden Times that he learned two weeks ago the department has had the unmanned aerial vehicles since 2010.

The information came to light after the Federal Aviation Administration released a list of agencies certified to fly drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Gadsden Police Department was on the list.

Chief Crane, who was named police chief in February, said he doesn’t know why they were purchased. The cost was about $150,000, paid through a federal law enforcement grant.

Chief Crane said the department’s UAVs, which have video surveillance capability, haven’t been used because there hasn’t been a need for them.


Teenager rescues toddler from roof of apartment

VANCOUVER — A teen boy in Washington state was hailed Monday as a hero for pulling an 18-month-old child from the second-floor roof of an apartment building moments after his 2-year-old brother fell into a flower bed.

“That’s the type of quick-thinking kid I’d like to see in the sheriff’s office in 10 or 12 years,” Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Neiman said of 13-year-old Damon Davenport. “He sees the issue and jumps into action while others gawk.”

The children were supposed to be napping in their third-floor apartment Sunday when they climbed through a damaged screen onto a roof outside the window, authorities said.

Damon was playing football nearby when he heard one child hit the ground.

“I heard a thump and I heard the baby cry,” the seventh-grader told the Columbian newspaper.

He and others ran to the child before Damon ran upstairs to get the child’s father. When they got back downstairs, the teenager noticed the new danger.

“Everybody said there’s another baby up there,” Damon recalled. “I ran and I opened the door and opened the window and pushed out the screen and grabbed the baby boy who was 2 inches from the edge.”

He handed the crying 18-month-old to the father. The 2-year-old boy was checked at a hospital and sent home.


Prosecutor won’t call suspect a serial killer

NEW ALBANY — An Indiana prosecutor said he’s not ready to accuse a man charged in the deaths of two women of being a serial killer, though the slayings seem to meet the definition.

William Clyde Gibson, 54, was charged last week with murder in the deaths of a 75-year-old family friend found dead April 19 in his New Albany home and the 2002 death of Florida hairdresser whose body was found near the Ohio River.

Police also are investigating the death of a 35-year-old woman whose body was found Friday in Mr. Gibson’s backyard.


Woman balks at paying old $73 out-of-state debt

AMESBURY — A Massachusetts woman who got a bill for $73 from the state of New Jersey for a decades-old debt said she has no intention of paying.

Alice Mainville, of Amesbury, got a letter recently telling her she owes New Jersey’s Department of Labor $73 because it gave her too much money in an unemployment check 35 years ago.

Ms. Mainville told the Daily News of Newburyport she collected unemployment during a labor dispute at the bakery where she worked when she was 17.

Ms. Mainville, who moved to Massachusetts after high school, said she won’t pay because New Jersey officials have not explained how they concluded she owes the money.

New Jersey Department of Labor spokeswoman Kerri Gatling said there is no bad debt “write-off” in unemployment insurance law.


Iowa case asks: Is it criminal to harass birds?

IOWA CITY — Federal prosecutors hope to use an obscure law to punish two recreational pilots whose low flying may have disturbed thousands of resting migratory birds in Iowa.

Paul Austin and Craig Martin are charged with violating the Airborne Hunting Act.

Prosecutors said they flew separate small planes 20 feet above Saylorville Lake last November, causing a large group of waterbirds including white pelicans to take flight. The two were not hunting, but prosecutors said they violated the law, which prohibits using an aircraft to harass animals.

Mr. Austin and Mr. Martin have asked a judge to dismiss the indictment, arguing the law is unconstitutional. They question how pilots are supposed to know whether birds feel harassed.

Prosecutors said last week that harassment is like pornography: You know it when you see it.


As ban on foie gras nears, chefs seek reprieve

In 2004, the California Legislature gave foie gras producers seven years to find a humane way to create the duck-liver delicacy without forcing food down the birds’ throats.

With the law set to take effect the July 1, some of the state’s top chefs on Monday were attempting to overturn it. A hundred have signed a petition saying they want to keep the sale of foie gras legal and establish new regulations for raising the birds.

The 11th-hour attempt has ruffled the feathers of the ban’s original sponsor.

“I gave them seven years - seven years, and I shouldn’t have - and now they’re all going, ‘Oh, my God, I just don’t know how we’re going to survive,’ ” said the former president pro tem of the state Senate, John Burton, now the state Democratic Party chairman. “I’m so infuriated with the bad faith going on here that words cannot describe it.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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