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Archive for Sunday, June 19, 2005

Briefly

June 19, 2005

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Washington

Man convicted of trying to murder Ford official

A retired political science professor from Philadelphia has been convicted of trying to murder President Gerald Ford's personnel chief - 30 years after he believed he was passed over for a government job.

Robert Spadaro was found guilty in federal district court last week of four counts of attempted murder and interstate stalking against businessman Douglas Bennett.

Spadaro faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said the 70-year-old defendant believed Bennett intentionally denied him a position with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1975 because of a relationship he had with Bennett's first wife before they married. Bennett says he never knew Spadaro was looking for a federal job.

Spadaro, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, admitted he had stalked Bennett but argued he did not intend to kill him. "If I had wanted Douglas Bennett dead, he would be dead," Spadaro said in his closing arguments last week.

California

Oakland Mayor ties knot for 1st time at 67

It was just like any other wedding. They said their "I do's." They kissed. Flower girls in pink graced the backdrop.

Except Saturday's marriage at the magnificent Rotunda building in downtown Oakland joined California's best-known bachelor, Mayor and former Gov. Jerry Brown, and his longtime partner, Anne Gust. It was a first marriage for them both.

"We're very excited," a jovial Brown, 67, said after tying the knot during a ceremony replete with Gregorian chanting, reflecting the mayor's former days as a Jesuit scholar.

"I thought it was a fantastic ceremony," said Gust, who wore an elegant custom-made ivory taffeta dress. Gust, 47, left her job as a Gap executive to help run her husband's campaign for state Attorney General in 2006.

Despite Brown's New Agey nickname when he led the state in the 1970s - "Gov. Moonbeam" - the wedding was quite traditional.

"It's very surprising," Willie Brown said. "This is something the Kennedy clan would have been proud of."

San Francisco

Serial molester's journals show 36,000 encounters

Despite being arrested at least nine times for molesting boys, Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller managed to avoid lengthy prison terms, coach youth football, move in with another convicted sex offender - and be named by authorities as one of the most prolific child molesters in history.

Schwartzmiller's criminal record began 35 years ago, but he never registered as a sex offender and spent just 12 years in prison. In his time on the outside, police suspect he molested children as many as 36,000 times in several states, Mexico and Brazil.

With Schwartzmiller, 63, being held without bail on charges involving two San Jose boys, police and the FBI are trying to retrace his movements over the past 30 years.

A search of Schwartzmiller's San Jose home turned up spiral-bound notebooks with notes on more than 36,000 encounters with children, San Jose Police Lt. Scott Cornfield said.

Messages left for Schwartzmiller's public defender last week were not returned.

New York

Officials investigating two helicopter crashes

Federal officials are faced with twin investigations in the crashes of two helicopters that plunged into the East River within minutes of taking off this past week.

A total of 15 people survived the two crashes. One remained in critical condition Saturday.

"We're casting a big net right now," National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Brian Rayner said Saturday at a news conference.

Rayner was investigating Friday's crash of a helicopter carrying two pilots and six businessmen. The chopper went into the river just after taking off from midtown Manhattan's 34th Street heliport for a flight to Wilmington, Del.

One of the MBNA pilots, Mark Schaberg, 56, remained hospitalized Saturday in critical but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, said hospital administrator Peter Schectman. The second pilot and all six passengers were treated and released.

One victim from Tuesday's crash of a sightseeing helicopter just a few miles away near the Wall Street heliport was still in Bellevue on Saturday, listed in serious but stable condition.

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