October 4, 2006 in Nation/World

Bus company owner guilty of two counts

The Spokesman-Review
 

The owner of the bus that exploded and killed 23 people during the Hurricane Rita evacuation was acquitted Tuesday of one safety violation charge but was convicted on two lesser counts.

James Maples, 65, was found not guilty of conspiring to falsify logs but convicted of poorly maintaining his fleet and not requiring drivers to fill out vehicle inspection reports. His company, Global Limo Inc., which was also on trial, was found guilty on all charges.

Global Limo faces a $500,000 fine on the conspiracy count and a $200,000 fine on each of the two other convictions. Maples faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine on each of his two convictions. Sentencing is set for Dec. 14.

The trial stemmed from a federal investigation into a Global Limo bus that exploded and burned while stuck in traffic on Sept. 23, 2005, killing 23 elderly patients too frail to escape.

But none of the charges was directly related to the bus accident.

Washington

Guard just misses ‘06 recruiting goal

The Army National Guard fell slightly short of its recruiting goal this year, rebounding from a severe deficit in 2005 and exceeding its goal for re-enlistments, defense officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said the results for the 2006 budget year that ended Sept. 30 were the best since he took the post more than three years ago, and he said the outcome was far brighter than was forecast a year ago when the Guard fell 20 percent short of its recruiting goal.

Blum said he was not authorized to discuss specific numbers, but other officials said the Guard achieved 99 percent of its goal of 70,000 recruits.

Blum attributed the improved recruiting result in part to the fact that fewer Guardsmen were deployed in Iraq this past year and thus had more direct influence in their own communities on encouraging others to join.

Los Angeles

DNA test demanded of Smith’s daughter

A man who claims to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s newborn daughter has filed a lawsuit demanding the reality TV star and baby girl return to California for paternity testing, his lawyer said Tuesday.

The lawsuit on behalf of Larry Birkhead, a photographer who says he is Smith’s former boyfriend, was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Debra Opri told the Associated Press.

She said Smith was served with court papers Monday in the Bahamas, where the 38-year-old former Playboy playmate has been mourning the death of her adult son. Daniel Wayne Smith died Sept. 10 while visiting his mother in the hospital where she had given birth three days earlier.

Howard K. Stern, an attorney for Smith, claims he is the father of the baby girl, Dannie Lynn Hope. He has said the couple plans to marry.

Washington

Agency says inmate mail not scrutinized

Mail for convicted terrorists and other dangerous federal inmates isn’t being fully read by prison authorities, and that is a risk to national security, a Justice Department review concluded Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is supposed to translate and screen all mail to and from the highest-risk inmates – including terrorists, gang members and spies – for evidence of criminal activity. But that target was not being met consistently at 10 federal prisons and detention centers surveyed by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

“The threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated,” concluded the report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.


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