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Archive for Saturday, May 25, 2002

Nation Briefs

May 25, 2002

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Mississippi: Fugitive financier guilty in bilking case

Martin Frankel, the financier accused of swindling more than $200 million from insurance companies while living in luxury, pleaded guilty to corruption charges Friday in Mississippi, more than a week after his guilty plea to federal charges for the same scam.

The 47-year-old former fugitive pleaded guilty to nine counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy and one count of making false statements. He faces up to five years in prison on each count.

Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn deferred sentencing for a year as part of a deal with state and federal prosecutors.

State insurance officials said Friday they have recovered $80 million to $90 million. Most of the looted money was from Mississippi companies.

Seattle: Officials to capture sick whale orphan

The National Marine Fisheries Service decided Friday to capture an ailing orphan orca that has been languishing in the Puget Sound for several months and return her to Canadian waters.

Officials of the service said that while it would be a high-risk operation, it would be best to remove her from the busy waters off Vashon Island as soon as possible. After a few weeks of rehabilitation, the whale would be relocated to Canada's Johnstone Strait, the summer home of her pod.

Bob Lohn of the NMFS said a capture team was being put together and would probably seek to capture the whale within a few weeks.

Tennessee: Inmate repeats escape

A murder suspect who escaped from jail 11 years ago broke out again using the same hole in the same fence.

"You just scream when you hear something like that," said chief jailer Marron Hopkins.

David Ivy, 30, escaped May 16 by crawling through a hole in a fence around an inmate recreation area on the Shelby County jail roof and climbing down a drainpipe.

Ivy first escaped from the downtown Memphis jail in 1991.

Jailers could not explain why the hole had not been repaired. It has now been closed.

Authorities describe Ivy, who is 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, as dangerous and likely armed.

California: Halloween shooter guilty of manslaughter

A Buena Park man accused of killing a teen-age neighbor who stole a Halloween decoration from his front porch was convicted Friday of voluntary manslaughter by a jury that concluded the shooting was an accident, not murder.

Prosecutors sought second-degree murder charges against Pete T. Solomona, saying he shot his 17-year-old neighbor in an angry rage over having his plastic pumpkin stolen. The jury, however, said it believed Solomona's story that the gun went off by accident.

Jurors, some of whom said they cried during the deliberations, believed that Solomona didn't intend to kill the teen.

Solomona returns to court in July for sentencing.

California: Hackers break into state employee system

Computer hackers have broken into a computer system that contains personal financial information of 260,000 state workers, including top officials, authorities said Friday.

The system contains payroll deduction information, including last names, first names, middle initials, Social Security numbers and possibly bank details. The information covers employees from all ranks, even Gov. Gray Davis and his staff.

It had not yet been determined if the hackers used the information for any purposes, including identity theft.

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