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Friday
Feb182011

SUV Goes Airborne and Lands on Pickup, Killing Family of Five

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(THORTON, Colo.) -- Police are trying to determine what caused a Colorado woman to speed through an intersection and cause a horrendous chain reaction that launched her car into the air before landing on a small pickup truck, instantly killing a family of five.

The SUV, a Ford Expedition, was driven by Monica Chavez, 33, who had two young children in the vehicle with her when she began weaving through traffic at high speeds during Thursday's rush hour, police and witnesses said.

"We've not determined the cause of the accident," said Thornton Police Department spokesman Matt Barnes. "We don't know if it was reckless driving, something medical, or drugs and alcohol."

Until the investigation is concluded, Barnes said, charges will not be pressed.

Police are awaiting the results of a toxicology report which Barnes said was still some days away to determine if Chavez was intoxicated at the time.

Chavez was headed south on a highway outside Denver when she drove into an intersection and struck a car that was making a turn in front of Chavez, police reports said. After striking the Mazda, the SUV hit a median that propelled it into the air.

The vehicle landed on top of a small Chevrolet S-10 pickup, crushing it and killing a family of five riding in the truck.

The victims in the truck were identified as Randy Stollsteimer and Crystal Stollsteimer and their sons, Sebastian, 12, Darian, 8, and Cyrus, 6.

After landing on the truck, the SUV rolled across a parking lot and crashed into the plate-glass window of a mattress store, injuring one man inside from flying shards of glass.

Paul Roggow, owner of Urban Mattress Store, said the car came careening into his store, demolishing a desk and stopping inches from where he was standing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

House Votes to Strip Planned Parenthood of Federal Funding

Photo Courtesy - PlannedParenthood[dot]org(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives passed a measure Friday to end federal funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood a day after Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., brought the chamber to stunned silence after describing her own personal experience with abortion.

On Friday afternoon, the House passed the amendment by a vote of 240-185. The House must still vote for final passage on the underlying spending bill before the cuts head to the Senate for a possible vote later this month.

The measure would eliminate cutting about $330 million through the end of September for preventative-health services, including federal funding for contraception and cancer screenings, at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.

Planned Parenthood is already prevented by federal law from using federal dollars for abortion services. The amendment takes away the money they use to provide for family planning, birth control, medical and preventive services.

Speier took to the House floor to respond to comments made by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., against abortion funding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Fourth Grader Suspended Over 'Kick Me' Sign Prank

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images (file)(NEW YORK) -- The age-old prank of sticking a "kick me" sign to a classmate's back has landed one fourth grader in serious trouble at a New York City elementary school.

A 9-year-old boy was suspended for two days for sticking a post-it note on another student's back with the words "kick me" scribbled on it. The mother of the suspended student is reportedly upset that her son's joke led to punishment, the New York Post reported.

The suspension comes amid a national debate over what constitutes bullying and when efforts to block bullying have gone too far. The "kick me" punishment has divided experts on whether the school went too far.

The incident happened at P.S. 158 in Manhattan in late January. New York City's Department of Education defended the suspension. The school would not identify the student or release any information about whether the disciplined student's prank led to any injuries.

Over the last 10 years, there's been a spike in school suspensions in New York City. A report released last month showed that the number of suspensions in New York City schools are at an all time high.  The study, done by the New York Student Safety Coalition and the New York Civil Liberties Union, showed that one in 14 of New York's public school students are suspended each year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Search Extended for Missing Arizona Marine

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Marine Corps(MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz.) -- Authorities on Friday extended the search for missing Sgt. Jonathan Kyle Ferguson, who was last seen at a Yuma, Ariz. restaurant Monday morning.

"I want Sgt. Ferguson's parents in Louisiana to know that their son's safety is our highest priority right now," Lieutenant Colonel Craig Doty, Commanding Officer of Marine Air Control Squadron 1, said in a statement Friday. "Sgt. Ferguson is a part of our Marine Corps family and we are doing everything we can to help find him."

Investigators have classified Ferguson's disappearance a "missing person" case.

Ferguson is a Tactical Air Operations Module/Air Defense Technician for Marine Air Control Squadron 1.

He recently completed a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Jorge Barahona Says He Poured Gas on Son While the Boy Slept in His Lap

Photo Courtesy - West Palm Beach Sheriff's Department(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Jorge Barahona described to police shortly after he was arrested how his 10-year-old son was asleep with his head in his father's lap when Barahona poured gasoline over the boy, intending to set him on fire.

Despite that statement, Barahona pleaded not guilty Friday to a fresh charge of attempted murder of his adopted son Victor Doctor.

The boy remains hospitalized with severe burns over his body.

The body of Victor's twin sister, Nubia, was found in Barahona's pickup truck, but he has not been charged in her death.

Barahona, a 53-year-old exterminator, had been charged Thursday with aggravated assault in regard to Victor, but that charge was upgraded Friday to attempted murder.

The suspect failed to appear in court Thursday to face the original charge because he tried to injure himself. He showed up briefly in court Friday looking disheveled in a blue prison jumpsuit.

Investigators say there are "inconsistencies" in Barahona's account of what took place in the moments before police discovered the Barahona and Victor parked along highway I-95 outside West Palm Beach. Barahona was passed out near the pickup truck and inside the truck police found Victor, covered in acid burns and gasping for breath.

According to an updated probable cause affidavit released Friday Barahona "stated he poured gasoline over his head while Victor slept with his head in [Barahona's] lap. Later in the interview, [Barahona] said he held Victor in his arms while he poured gasoline over his own head."

According to the affidavit, however, only Victor was injured.

A judge Thursday ordered Barahona to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and bail was set at $1 million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Doctors, Nurses, Therapists Arrested in Medicare Fraud Raids

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal agents raided health care facilities in nine states Thursday morning, arresting dozens of suspects believed to be defrauding Medicare of tens of millions of dollars.

Federal authorities say this is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- take-down of Medicare fraud suspects ever conducted.

The raids began Thursday morning in the pre-dawn hours.  The targets: more than 100 doctors, nurses, therapists and healthcare company executives who have allegedly been stealing tax dollars to the tune of $200 million in recent months.  Much of the fraud involved healthcare professionals billing the government for medical services never performed and medicines not provided.

The raids were conducted in Miami, Brooklyn, Tampa, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

Ten individuals, including three doctors and one physical therapist, were charged in Brooklyn, New York with fraud schemes involving $90 million in false billings for physical therapy, proctology services and nerve conduction tests.

In Miami, 32 defendants, including two doctors and eight nurses, were charged for their participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $55 million in false billings for home health care, durable medical equipment and prescription drugs.

Twenty-one defendants, including three doctors, three physical therapists and one occupational therapist, were charged in Detroit for schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $23 million.  The Detroit cases involve false claims for home health care, nerve conduction tests, psychotherapy, physical therapy and podiatry.

Ten defendants were charged in Tampa, Florida, for participating in schemes involving more than $5 million related to false claims for physical therapy, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.  Nine individuals were charged in Houston for schemes involving $8 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for physical therapy, durable medical equipment, home health care and chiropractor services.

In Dallas, seven defendants were indicted for conspiring to submit $2.8 million in false billing to Medicare related to durable medical equipment and home health care.  Five defendants were charged in Los Angeles for their roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $28 million.  The cases in Los Angeles involve false claims for durable medical equipment and home health care.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, six individuals were charged for a durable medical equipment fraud scheme involving more than $9 million in false claims.  In Chicago, charges were filed against 11 individuals associated with businesses that have billed Medicare more than $6 million for home health, diagnostic testing and prescription drugs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Notre Dame University Hit With Second Sex Assault Complaint

Photo Courtesy - Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) -- Notre Dame University has been hit for a second time in recent months with accusations that it failed to properly investigate an allegation from a young woman that one of its students sexually assaulted her.

The charge is particularly sensitive for Notre Dame, one of the country's most prestigious Catholic universities, because the school is still reeling from the suicide of Elizabeth Seeberg.  Seeberg was a 19-year-old student at neighboring St. Mary's College who killed herself on Sept. 10, 2010 after Notre Dame did not aggressively pursue her sexual assault complaint, her family has said.

The Seeberg family issued a statement to ABC News on Friday saying "Notre Dame's investigatory process has failed another young woman entrusted to its care."

Both incidents occurred around the same period.  Seeberg claimed she was molested Aug. 31 and committed suicide 10 days later.

The new accusation claims another St. Mary's student was sexually assaulted on Sept. 4.  According to St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, the woman reported the attack to police within 24 hours, went to a hospital for a rape kit, and met there with Notre Dame police.

At the hospital she was also met by a sexual assault victim's advocate and a nurse trained in sexual assault protocols.

The student, whose name was not released, met again with Notre Dame police on Sept. 11 -- the day after Seeberg's suicide -- at which time she told police she wanted to press charges.

But this past week Dvorak's office told the young woman and her family that it would not proceed with a prosecution because of a lack of evidence.

That decision has angered the student's family.  The woman's father told the Chicago Tribune that he had met with the university's president and police to plead for a prosecution.

The woman, who admits she had been drinking before the alleged assault, told the Tribune that she felt the police were protecting the university instead of her.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Man Convicted of Trying to Blow up JFK Sentenced to Life

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A man authorities say was behind a foiled terror plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport has been sentenced to life in prison in New York City on Thursday.

Russell Defreitas, a former cargo handler who federal authorities say tried to blow up fuel tanks at Kennedy Airport in 2007, was convicted last August on multiple conspiracy charges.

Investigators uncovered the plot after an informant recorded conversations with Defreitas, detailing the plot. Authorities say Defreitas was part of a terror cell that had plans to carry out an attack that would do more damage than the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

In Wisconsin, State Workers March Over Pension Cuts

Photo Courtesy - Mark Hirsch/Getty Images(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Thousands of public workers marched in Wisconsin's capital before a legislative vote Thursday on whether to slash public worker pensions and curb collective bargaining rights of unions.

"There are thousands of people here -- 20,000 at least!" said Scott Favour, a Madison, Wisconson, police officer, describing the crowd that surged around Gov. Scott Walker's office Wednesday.

Officer Favour, himself a protester, was taking the day off to express his opposition to the governor's so-called budget repair bill, which would close a state shortfall of some $3.6 billion in part by asking public employees to pay a greater share of their pension and health insurance costs.  The bill would also curb collective bargaining rights and make it tougher for public employee unions to operate.

Alexandra Nieves, 35, another police officer, says the bill "is upsetting."  The governor's take-back on pensions and health insurance was something she never anticipated when she joined the force three years ago.  Still, it's his proposal to curb collective bargaining that disturbs her most.

"What have we fought for all these years?" she asked angrily.  "It's like telling a woman you can't vote -- that you should take off your shoes and go back to the kitchen."

The governor, asked by ABC News if he was surprised by the size of the turnout, said, "No, not at all.  When you do something bold, you'll get a reaction."

The governor had telegraphed his intentions even before he assumed office.  In a speech last December he had declared, "We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots."

His bill now asks state workers to pay 5.8 percent of their own pension costs (that percentage, he says, is below the national average) and 12.6 percent of health insurance costs (about half the national average, he says).  Those changes together would help produce $30 million in savings in the last quarter of the current fiscal year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Man Accused of Burning Son with Acid Held on $1 Million Bail

Photo Courtesy - West Palm Beach Sheriff's Department(MIAMI) -- A Florida man accused of attacking his 10-year-old adopted son with acid is a "danger to the community" and should be held on a $1 million bond, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Jorge Barahona, 53, did not appear at the hearing because he tried to injure himself and became uncooperative, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital for observation.

Barahona, an exterminator, is charged with aggravated child abuse. The charges were filed after police found him passed out from gasoline fumes next to his pickup truck. Inside the truck, police found Barahona's son covered in acid burns and his clothes soaked in gasoline. The boy was also found to have a broken collar bone.

Hours later, investigators also discovered the decomposing remains of the boy's twin sister, who was found stuffed in a bag in the truck's flatbed.

The judge ordered Barahona to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Barahona was represented by a public defender. No plea was entered.

Barahona has yet to be charged in the murder of Nubia Doctor, 10, his adopted daughter. Her twin brother, Victor Doctor, is still in the hospital with severe chemical burns to his lower body.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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