Nation in brief: Fifth Justice official quitting


A fifth senior Justice Department official announced his resignation Friday in the wake of the controversy over the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

Michael Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, will leave the department at the end of next week to join an unidentified law firm.

Elston was closely involved in deliberations over the fate of a group of U.S. attorneys last December. He assembled one of the lists of prosecutors to be considered for removal. Four of the dismissed prosecutors said they later received inappropriate telephone calls from Elston, who allegedly warned some of them that they would suffer retaliation if they spoke publicly about their firings.

Elston and his attorney have denied the allegations.

His departure comes on the heels of a similar decision by McNulty, who announced last month that he would be leaving the Justice Department this summer. Three other senior aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have also resigned in recent months after disclosures of their involvement in the prosecutor firings.

Antioch, Calif.

Mixup blamed for child’s margarita

Kim Mayorga was confused when her 2-year-old started making funny faces and pushing away the apple juice he had ordered at Applebee’s. The explanation came when she opened the lid of the sippy cup and was hit by the smell of tequila and Triple Sec.

The restaurant staff accidentally gave Julian Mayorga a margarita Monday. He grew drowsy and started vomiting a few hours later and was rushed to the hospital.

“I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it,” the mother told the Contra Costa Times, “but then he got sick.”

The apple juice and margarita mix were stored in identical plastic bottles, and the manager mistakenly grabbed the margarita container to pour the boy’s drink, said Randy Tei, vice president for Apple Bay East Inc., which owns the franchise restaurant and nine other Applebee’s in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Mayorgas will be reimbursed for their medical bills, and Tei said the franchise group’s restaurants will no longer serve apple juice and margaritas in similar containers.

Mayorga said the company has been very apologetic and offered free meals, but she added, “If they think I’m going back there, they’re ridiculous.”


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