Abuse charges were filed Wednesday against a woman accused of fraudulently adopting and mistreating 11 New York children in order to bilk a child welfare agency out of $2 million.
Judith Leekin, 62, could face up to 190 years in prison if convicted on all 10 counts stemming from her alleged abuse of the children, including handcuffing them and holding them captive at her Port St. Lucie home, said Prosecutor Ajay Whittemore.
Port St. Lucie police say she held the children like prisoners in her home, often handcuffing them together and not allowing them to use a bathroom. The children, who now range in age from 15 to 27, told police they were never allowed to attend school, see a doctor or a dentist and were barely fed.
FBI loosens policy on pot
Aspiring FBI agents who once dabbled in marijuana use won’t be barred from getting a job with the agency, which has loosened its drug policy amid a campaign to hire hundreds of agents.
The bureau’s pot-smoking standard, in place for at least 13 years, was changed after internal debate about whether the policy was eliminating prospects because of drug experimentation, said Jeff Berkin, deputy director of the FBI’s Security Division. The policy disqualified candidates if they had used marijuana more than 15 times.
There was no public announcement of the change, which took effect in January. The decision comes as the FBI continues its hiring campaign and as law enforcement agencies across the country grapple with high rates of disqualification based in part on applicants’ past drug use.
Water project bill faces Bush veto
The House overwhelmingly passed a $20 billion water projects bill Wednesday night despite a promised veto by President Bush, who complains the bill is laden with costly pet projects and shifts new costs onto the government.
The bill was seven years in the making and finally passed the House on a 381-40 vote after it was agreed upon by House-Senate negotiators. This year’s bill includes some $3.5 billion for Katrina-damaged Louisiana, plus more than $2 billion for projects in California and $2 billion for Florida, mostly for restoring the Everglades.