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In brief: Man pleads guilty in Navy bribe case

SAN DIEGO – A second person pleaded guilty Tuesday to being part of a bribery conspiracy involving lucrative contracts to service U.S. Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific region.

Alex Wisidagama, 40, a resident of Singapore, pleaded guilty in federal court to scheming to defraud the U.S. into overpaying at least $20 million for supplies and services. He faces a maximum 10 years in prison when sentenced.

Wisidagama is a former executive with Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, whose owner, Leonard Glenn Francis, is the key figure in the case. Wisidagama is Francis’ cousin.

John Bertrand Beliveau, 44, a one-time senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, pleaded guilty in December to leaking confidential documents to Francis about an investigation involving Francis, who is charged with bribing Beliveau and two Navy officers for inside information about the movement of ships.

Fire department settles lawsuit

NEW YORK – About 1,500 minorities who took New York City fire department entrance exams that were found to be biased will be eligible to receive back pay totaling $98 million, a black firefighters’ group that had sued the city over racial discrimination said Tuesday.

The settlement of the 7-year-old case capped a long and arduous legal fight by the group, the Vulcan Society, over diversity in the fire department. In a city where more than half of residents identify with a racial minority group, black firefighters have never made up more than 4 percent of the department’s total.

Besides back pay, the settlement includes more than $6 million to cover lost medical payments, fringe benefits and interest for those who took the test in 1999 and 2002. It also allows for firefighters to be assigned to firehouses in neighborhoods where they live.

9/11 mastermind’s testimony barred

NEW YORK – A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks will not be allowed to testify in the terrorism trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, but defense lawyers later asked him to reconsider.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan firmly rejected a request by the lawyers to call Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a witness at the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith using live, closed-circuit video from Guantanamo Bay, where Mohammed is imprisoned.

Kaplan told the defense that the testimony would be irrelevant because there was no evidence that Mohammed and Abu Ghaith had ever met or even been in the same country.

Grand Canyon fall claims Texas man

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. – Authorities investigating the death of a Texas man at Grand Canyon National Park believe he fell about 350 feet from the canyon’s edge after trying to retrieve something, possibly a hat.

John N. Anderson, 53, of Grapevine, Texas, died Saturday after falling about 350 feet from the South Rim near El Tovar Lodge, park officials said. Witnesses reported seeing Anderson near a small rock wall that serves as a barrier between visitors and the massive gorge, but no one saw him fall, Grand Canyon Chief Ranger Bill Wright said Tuesday.

Anderson was visiting the park with family.

WASHINGTON – An Internal Revenue Service employee took home personal information on about 20,000 IRS workers, former workers and contractors, putting the data at risk for public release, the agency said Tuesday.

The employee took home a computer thumb drive containing names, Social Security numbers and addresses of the workers, and plugged the drive into an unsecure home network, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an email to employees.

“At this point, we have no direct evidence to indicate this personal information has been used for identity theft …,” the IRS said in a statement.


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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

UPDATED: 10:03 p.m.

North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site ahead of a new round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States. There was no clear indication in the North’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.