- - Thursday, August 2, 2012

SAN BERNARDINO — Officials in San Bernardino, which is facing an expected $45.8 million budget deficit this year, have formally filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, a move city leaders approved last month.

Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller said Wednesday there would be “no immediate service reductions or changes in service to the community as a result of the filing.”

City officials are working on a plan for the city’s operational budget during bankruptcy. Once the plan is complete, reductions may occur, said Mrs. Travis-Miller, who is aiming to submit a plan for the City Council’s consideration within the next three weeks.

The city of 210,000 people, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, declared a fiscal emergency July 18. It has become the third California city to declare insolvency this year, joining Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.


Double-decker Megabus crashes into bridge

LITCHFIELD — A packed double-decker Megabus blew a tire and slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support pillar on an interstate in Illinois on Thursday, officials said.

Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Francis said he had no reports of fatalities or number of injuries about two hours after the crash of the discount charter bus, which the company said was traveling from Chicago to Kansas City. He said 30 ambulances and 10 medical helicopters were sent to the scene.

“We received a report it had blown a tire, which caused it to run off the road,” Trooper Francis said. “The bus did stay upright.”

Television helicopter footage shows numerous emergency vehicles surrounding the bus and rescue crews climbing ladders to reach inside its crumpled front end. Some passengers could be seen being aided along the side of Interstate 55, which was closed in both directions.

Megabus spokeswoman Amanda Byers said the bus was at full capacity, carrying 81 passengers, when it crashed near Litchfield, about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis. The bus also was to stop in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo.


Police: Missing swimmer spotted in S. Carolina

MASSAPEQUA — A man reported missing in waters off Long Island is believed to be alive and well and en route back to New York after apparently spending some time in Florida, police said Thursday.

“He’s not drowned and dead,” New York State Park Police Capt. Bruce Marx said at a briefing.

Raymond Roth, 47, of Massapequa was reported missing Saturday after his son told authorities the two had gone to Jones Beach and his father had gone swimming but never returned. Police marine units, helicopters and officers searched for several days with no results.

On Wednesday night, a relative of Mr. Roth’s contacted police and reported that he was somewhere in Florida, Capt. Marx said.

Early Thursday morning, Mr. Roth was stopped going 90 mph on a South Carolina highway and was issued a speeding ticket. The officer who issued the ticket saw that Mr. Roth was listed in a national registry of missing persons; Mr. Roth said he was returning to New York, and the officer let him continue north. Capt. Marx noted there was no legal requirement for authorities to detain Mr. Roth.

It was not clear what transpired on Saturday when Mr. Roth disappeared or whether criminal charges will be filed. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice declined to comment. Capt. Marx said any decision on charges would have to await further investigation. He estimated that the search effort cost “tens of thousands” of dollars.


Widow charged in husband’s slaying

DECATUR — The widow of a businessman gunned down outside a suburban Atlanta preschool was charged Thursday in the slaying, accused of conspiring with the gunman who was convicted four months ago.

Andrea Sneiderman was charged with malice murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, racketeering, perjury and other charges, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said.

The prosecutor declined to answer questions about the case, but the indictment alleges Mrs. Sneiderman conspired with the gunman, Hemy Neuman, who was her boss at the time of the slaying. Much of Neuman’s trial centered on whether the two had an affair.

“She acted in concert with Hemy Neuman by giving Hemy Neuman the schedule for departure and return of Russell Sneiderman so that Neuman could kill Rusty Sneiderman,” the 19-page indictment says.

“Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman conspired together to murder Rusty Sneiderman, so that they could enjoy a life together, eliminate Neuman’s debt problems, and fully benefit from the assets the Sneidermans had acquired as well as the proceeds of Rusty Sneiderman’s life insurance policies,” the indictment says.

Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and it returned the indictment less than two hours later.

Mrs. Sneiderman was arrested in Putnam County and was being held without bond.


Social workers faulted in deaths of children

OLYMPIA — Social workers tasked with protecting the children of Josh Powell did not consult with lawenforcement before allowing him to host supervised visits at his home, a panel found Thursday.

The report concluded that the Washington Department of Social and Health Services should “make concerted efforts” to check with detectives before making changes in parent-child contacts when there is an active investigation. Authorities have been investigating the 2009 disappearance of Powell’s wife, Susan Powell, from their Utah home.

During a supervised visit at his Washington state home earlier this year, Josh Powell locked the front door on a social worker, used a hatchet on his sons and then torched the home to kill himself and the two children.

He had been locked in a custody dispute at the time of the killings, and a judge had recently ordered him to undergo an intensive psychosexual evaluation. The child fatality review committee also concluded that social workers should immediately reassess visitation policies when someone is ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.

Denise Revels Robinson, assistant secretary for the health department’s Children’s Administration, said the recommendations provided by the committee “will be of great help in our ongoing efforts to improve our practice in keeping children safe.”


Men boating on river save drowning cub

KENAI — Three Alaskan men are being credited with saving a brown bear from drowning.

The Peninsula Clarion reported that Dustin Klepacki was boating on the Kenai River with his father and their friend last weekend when they came upon the bear cub drowning in a whirlpool.

They tried to bump the bear out of the whirlpool, but the water caught their boat, and they turned in circles as the bear became more frantic.

Finally, the current brought the boat up against the bear, and Dustin’s father, Mike Polocz, was able to nudge the bear into slower-moving water. The bear swam to shore.

Another friend, Charlie Mettiale, filmed the rescue on his iPhone, and the video has been posted to YouTube, complete with the bear’s cries.


Angry tractor driver crushes 7 cop vehicles

MONTPELIER — Working in a stout former bank building with windows closed and air conditioners humming, Orleans County sheriff’s deputies didn’t know what was happening in their parking lot until a neighbor called 911.

A man on a big farm tractor, angry about his recent arrest for resisting arrest and marijuana possession, was rolling across their vehicles — five marked cruisers, one unmarked car and a transport van.

By the time they ran outside, the tractor was down the driveway and out onto the road.

With their vehicles crushed, “We had nothing to pursue him with,” said Chief Deputy Philip Brooks.

Thursday afternoon’s incident ended when city police in Newport, the county seat of the northern Vermont county, caught up with Roger Pion, 34, a short distance away.

Vermont State Police said in a statement that  Mr. Pion would face seven counts of felony unlawful mischief, one count of misdemeanor unlawful mischief, one count aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of gross negligent operation, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

Mr. Pion was being held at the Northern State Correctional Center in Newport on $15,000 bail. Damage to the vehicles was estimated at $250,000 to $300,000 or more.

Chief Deputy Brooks said the destroyed vehicles constituted more than half the fleet of sheriff’s cruisers in the rural county on the Canadian border. Others were out on patrol at the time of the incident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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