IRS operated without refund fraud screening

Saturday, July 15, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service cost the government $200 million to $300 million this year because a computer program that screens tax returns for fraudulent refunds wasn't operating. The tax agency said Friday that a contractor promised to deliver by January a new version of a program, used since 1996, that searches for signs of fraud in every tax return claiming a refund. The contractor, Computer Sciences Corp., did not produce a working program by the deadline. IRS officials could not put the old program back into operation in time for this spring's tax filing deadline. The IRS estimates the loss to the government at $200 million to $300 million.

Police sergeant charged with four rapes in Illinois

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A police sergeant was charged with four rapes dating back to 2002 Friday, two days after he was charged with stalking a woman who found him lurking outside her home. In addition to the rape charges, Bloomington Sgt. Jeff Pelo, 41, faces two counts of home invasion and charges of aggravated stalking and attempted residential burglary. Two of the rape victims identified Pelo from a photo lineup, and police found a mask, pry bar and other items in his home that appeared to have been used in at least one of the assaults, assistant state's attorney Mark Messman said.

Court reinstates gay marriage ban in Neb.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Courts handed victories to gay-marriage opponents in two states Friday, reinstating Nebraska's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and throwing out an attempt to keep a proposed ban off the ballot in Tennessee. In the Nebraska case, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judge's ruling last year that the ban was too broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things. Seventy percent of voters had approved the ban as a constitutional amendment in 2000. It went further than similar bans in many states in that it also barred same-sex couples from many legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples.

Gitmo general nominated as NATO commander

WASHINGTON -- An Army general who has headed the U.S. military command responsible for the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center for suspected terrorists for the past two years won approval Friday by NATO to be the next military commander of the 26-nation alliance. Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, whose nomination must also be confirmed by the Senate, would replace Marine Gen. James Jones, who is retiring. Jones was the first Marine to hold the post, which has always been held by an American officer, beginning with Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951. NATO issued a statement saying its Defense Planning Committee approved Craddock's nomination to succeed Jones.

-- From wire reports

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