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In brief: Man charged with arson in California wildfire

SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014

SAN DIEGO – A man was charged with arson Friday in one of at least 10 wildfires that erupted in Southern California this week, and investigators were working to determine how other blazes in the unusual outbreak were ignited.

State fire officials said the first blaze that erupted between Tuesday and Thursday was caused by a spark from malfunctioning construction equipment.

The man charged Friday, Alberto Serrato, 57, pleaded not guilty to arson in connection with one of the smaller fires – a 105-acre fire in suburban Oceanside that started Wednesday and is fully contained. Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney’s office, said witnesses saw Serrato adding dead brush onto smoldering bushes, which flamed up. He has not been connected to any other fire, Sierra said.

Watergate figure Magruder dies at 79

DANBURY, Conn. – Jeb Stuart Magruder, the man who claimed to have heard President Richard Nixon order the Watergate break-in, has died. He was 79.

Jeff Hull, owner of Hull Funeral Service in Danbury, said Magruder died May 11 of complications from a stroke.

Magruder was a businessman who became Nixon’s deputy campaign director and then served in the Republican president’s administration. He spent seven months in prison for lying about the involvement of Nixon’s re-election committee in the 1972 break-in at Washington’s Watergate complex. The burglary led to the president’s resignation.

Magruder later became a minister and a church fundraising consultant. In 2003, he moved to suburban Columbus, Ohio.


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