Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

Nation Briefs

February 10, 2001


Governor returns cash gifts

Gov. Frank Keating said Friday that he has returned $250,000 in gifts that he and his family received from retired Wall Street financier Jack Dreyfus. Keating spokesman Dan Mahoney said the cash gifts, which were offered over a 10-year period, were legal but that the Republican governor "wants to avoid any appearance of impropriety."

Keating has been criticized politically since disclosure last month of the gifts from Dreyfus, the founder of Dreyfus mutual funds. In a letter to Dreyfus, Keating said he had written a check for $250,000 to the Dreyfus Charitable Fund.

Phillips agrees to pay fine

Phillips Petroleum Co. has agreed to pay the government $8 million to settle allegations it underpaid royalties on oil it took from leased federal and Indian land from 1988 through 1998, the Justice Department said Friday. The settlement with the Bartlesville, Okla.-based company brings to more than $417 million the amount the government has recovered from 15 oil companies as a result of a private whistle-blower lawsuit originally filed under the False Claims Act.

Two private whistle-blowers alleged that 17 companies underpaid royalties on oil taken from more than 27 million acres of leased federal and Indian lands onshore and offshore in 21 states.

Snacks off-limits until lunch

The Board of Education has a message for school kids who crave the sweet taste of a Twinkie, a chocolate bar or a cold soda: Wait until after lunch. The board has signed an agreement settling a 1999 class-action lawsuit brought by parents who accused public school principals of selling junk food to children in violation of federal, state and city regulations.

According to the settlement, nonnutritious foods may not be sold in city school buildings until the end of the last lunch period.

Some school principals have collected as much as $100,000 per year in junk food sales. Principals have been using the revenue to offset the high cost of extracurricular activities.

White House shooter charged

Federal prosecutors Friday charged Robert Pickett with assaulting a federal officer and said they now believe he fired two gunshots Wednesday outside the White House.

Pickett, 47, a former IRS employee with a history of mental problems, will likely appear next week in U.S. District Court. He was shot in the leg during a confrontation with uniformed Secret Service officers and remains at George Washington University Hospital, where he is listed in good condition.

Authorities said Pickett, of Evansville, Ind., approached the south fence of the White House at 11:25 a.m. Wednesday, brandishing a .38-caliber revolver. In an arrest affidavit filed Friday, prosecutors said a uniformed Secret Service officer saw him fire the weapon.

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