Archive for Saturday, July 31, 2004


July 31, 2004


New York City

'Last Don' convicted, faces life in prison

Bonanno crime boss Joseph Massino was convicted Friday of orchestrating a quarter century's worth of crimes including murder, racketeering, arson and extortion, becoming the last of New York's Mafia dons to lose his freedom.

Jurors took less than four days to weigh two months of evidence, including testimony from a parade of turncoat mobsters. They delivered what prosecutors called a devastating blow to organized crime.

Massino posed as a humble Queens restauranteur, but prosecutors said he was a "one-man army" who ruthlessly ordered rivals slain to consolidate his power over a syndicate that earned millions of dollars from loansharking and gambling and other illicit operations.

Massino had been dubbed "The Last Don" for his ability to rebuild the family and avoid jail while the heads of New York's other four Mafia families were all behind bars.

Rhode Island

Suspect charged with killing three women

A man was charged Friday with murdering three Woonsocket women with histories of drug abuse and prostitution and discarding their remains in commercial trash bins throughout town.

Jeffrey S. Mailhot, who police said had no previous criminal record, was jailed without bail on three counts of first-degree murder. He did not enter a plea, and a message left for his attorney was not immediately returned.

Following an anonymous tip, Mailhot was arrested more than a week ago on two unrelated assault charges for allegedly trying to choke two women this year. Police said those cases were the break they needed to connect Mailhot with the deaths of Stacie Goulet, Christine Dumont, and Audrey Harris.


Fast-growing wildfire prompts evacuations

A fast-growing blaze in central Washington charred 10,000 acres in little more than 24 hours, prompting officials to evacuate 100 homes near Lake Chelan.

No injuries were reported, and no structures had been lost in the fire, other than a dock and a campground picnic shelter, Mike Ferris, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said Friday.

Firefighters were being mobilized to protect the homes in the Fields Point community, about 25 miles northwest of Chelan. A campground on the lake also was shut down.

The lightning-sparked fire began Monday.


Owner throws rabbit into lake with firework

Lucky the bunny is living up to her name.

It had seemed like luck had run out: Strapped to a powerful explosive with a lit fuse, Lucky was tossed into a lake.

But the explosive didn't blow up, and the rabbit was pulled out of the water.

Now Lucky's owner and his friend face misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty after photos of the July 13 incident surfaced on the Internet.

Nick Sigmon, 18, and Paul Collins, 20, are accused of taping an illegal M-1000 -- a large firecracker equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite -- to the rabbit and throwing her into Lake Don Castro.

Sigmon said he fished Lucky out of the water to save her from drowning. But prosecutors charged the two lifeguards on Wednesday.

Lucky is recovering at a foster owner's home, where she's snacking on hay pellets and doing well.


Possible witness in baby food case not talking

A man identified as a possible witness in a case of baby food tampering refused to answer questions, authorities said Friday. The man's lawyer said he had no information to help police.

"They kind of ruined this man's life with all this publicity that they showered on him," said Mark H. Williams, the lawyer for Charles Dewey Cage.

Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schroeder said prosecutors, police and the FBI on Thursday tried to interview Cage about the placement of ground castor beans containing trace amounts of the poison ricin in two jars of baby food.

"We believe he was in the store at the relevant time and has information that can help solve the case," Schroeder said.


Teen injured in accident at Jackson's estate

A 15-year-old boy riding an all-terrain vehicle at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch was injured when the vehicle flipped, a Jackson attorney said Friday.

The boy, a guest at the ranch, was injured Thursday and flown by helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was listed in good condition, said the attorney, Brian Oxman.

The boy "is just fine, no broken bones, no internal injuries, he's doing just fine," Oxman said.

Jackson was not at the ranch at the time, the attorney said. He did not identify the boy.

A nursing supervisor confirmed the boy was in good condition.

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