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In brief: Spy for Soviets dies in prison hospital

Raleigh, N.C. – A former American sailor convicted during the Cold War of leading a family spy ring for the Soviet Union has died in a prison hospital in North Carolina, officials said Friday.

Retired Navy Warrant Officer John A. Walker Jr. died Thursday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner. The cause of death was not immediately released. He was 77.

Walker was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty in 1985 to passing secrets to the Soviets while he was a shipboard communications officer.

The security breach was then considered among the largest and most devastating leaks of military secrets in the nation’s history.

A cryptologist, Walker used his high-level security clearance to provide Navy codes, ship locations, and other sensitive data in exchange for cash. After his 1976 retirement, Walker recruited his son, his brother and a friend to keep providing the Soviets fresh information. All were convicted.

Crocodile perishes resisting capture

Coral Gables, Fla. – An American crocodile that bit two swimmers in a South Florida canal has died. Wildlife officials said the croc named Pancho died Friday while fighting capture by two trappers in the backyard waters of the exclusive Gables by the Sea community.

“He died fighting,” said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for Florida Fish and Wildlife. “He was weak and lethargic and at some point died.”

The hunt for the 12-foot, 300-pound crocodile attracted a half-dozen trappers. The crocodile bit two swimmers who jumped into the canal that runs through the community Sunday.

The hunt divided some Gables by the Sea neighbors, leaving them with mixed feelings about capturing Pancho. Residents say they know some of the crocs – a federally protected species – by name since many have had color-coded tags and markings on their tails.

Snaggletooth and Streetwalker are regulars, along with Pancho, who was the largest, oldest and had been around the longest.