Nation digest 04/30/02

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Four flights detained; FBI releases passengers

PHILADELPHIA -- A jet that took off for Florida was forced to return to the airport because several passengers of Middle Eastern appearance had purchased one-way tickets for cash, passengers said Monday.

"The FBI had a list. They knew who the people were. They were trying to track the people to their seats," said Jack Clark, who was sitting next to one of the people removed.

The incident was one of four Sunday in which air travelers of Middle Eastern appearance or descent were questioned by the FBI. The other flights were in Houston, Washington D.C., and Baltimore.

In all cases, the passengers were freed after questioning.

FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi wouldn't confirm the passenger accounts but said the suspicious passengers were interviewed and released early Monday without being charged.

Pool dispute over Big Game jackpot settled

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- The big hassle over the Big Game jackpot is over.

New Jersey lottery officials said Monday that the person who can claim one-third of the $331 million prize will be revealed Tuesday -- and it won't be anyone from an office pool that claimed to have the winning ticket.

The ticket was one of three winners in the April 16 drawing. The others were sold in Georgia, where 20-year-old Erika Greene claimed her share of the prize, and Illinois, where the winner hasn't come forward.

The jackpot was the second-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history.

Auction CEO gets home detention for price fixing

NEW YORK -- Former Sotheby's chief executive Diana Brooks was sentenced Monday to six months of home detention for her role in a top-management price fixing scheme with rival auction house Christie's.

Brooks, the first woman to head a major auction house and for years one of the most powerful figures in the art world, was also ordered to pay a $350,000 fine, serve three years of probation and work 1,000 hours of community service.

Brooks, 51, was sentenced a week after her former boss, ex-Sotheby's Chairman A. Alfred Taubman, received a year in prison and was fined $7.5 million for his part in the scheme in which antique dealers and other sellers paid inflated commissions for nearly a decade.

Colorado court rules foot can be a deadly weapon

DENVER -- A foot can become a deadly weapon, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday, overturning a lower court's decision.

"Objects which are not inherently deadly, such as feet and hands, can become deadly weapons when used to start an unbroken, foreseeable chain of events capable of producing serious bodily injury or death," the Supreme Court said Monday.

The ruling came in the case of Cristopher Saleh, who was convicted of reckless assault with a deadly weapon for kicking his girlfriend, Janise Apodaca, down a flight of stairs in 1998.

An appeals court overturned the conviction and ruled it was third-degree assault, reasoning that the foot must be the instrument that caused the serious bodily injury in order to qualify as a deadly weapon.

Teen accused of plotting to poison punch at prom

VILLISCA, Iowa -- A teen-ager has been charged with administering a dangerous substance after he allegedly plotted to poison the punch at the Villisca High School prom.

Robert David Dumler, 15, initially faced a more serious felony charge of terrorism. But Montgomery County Attorney Bruce Swanson said Monday that the terrorism charge must involve firing a weapon or the use of an incendiary device.

Dumler was arrested Friday night after reports that he planned to spike the punch at Saturday's dance with a substance that would make people seriously ill or kill them, Police Chief Butch Rulla said.

Rulla said another teen turned over a plastic vial of an unknown liquid that belonged to Dumler. The liquid was being tested.

"He claimed it was just a joke," Rulla said. "But those aren't good jokes."

-- From wire reports

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