Probe ends into Clinton orders for clemency

Friday, June 21, 2002

NEW YORK -- Federal prosecutors closed their investigation Thursday into whether former President Clinton's grant of clemency to four swindlers was political payback arranged by his wife, now-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

U.S. Attorney James B. Comey said that his office had ended its investigation with no charges filed.

"We thoroughly investigated it and it wasn't appropriate to bring charges against anybody in the case," said Comey, who took office earlier this year after the departure of Clinton appointee Mary Jo White.

The case involved four men convicted of bilking the government out of tens of millions of dollars. All four lived in New Square, a Hasidic Jewish village outside New York City that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton during her Senate bid two years ago. President Clinton later shortened their sentences just before he left office.

Song royalty rates set on Internet broadcasts

WASHINGTON -- The government on Thursday decided that songs delivered online by Internet music broadcasters will be charged royalty fees at a rate that is half of what was originally proposed by an arbitration panel.

Instead, webcasters will be charged at a rate that amounts to 70 cents per song for every 1,000 listeners, the Copyright Office announced on its Web site.

In May, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, rejected the panel's rate proposal -- up to $1.40 per song heard by 1,000 listeners. That was double the rate for broadcasts sent out simultaneously on radio and the Internet.

SEC OKs plan to tighten accounting oversight

WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators endorsed a Bush administration plan to tighten oversight of the accounting industry Thursday. But the Senate's Democratic leader called it "a toothless tiger" that won't reassure investors shaken by Enron's collapse.

The Securities and Exchange Commission opened to public comment a proposal creating an independent monitoring body to oversee the accounting industry and discipline auditors, replacing the current system in which the industry largely polices itself.

Seizing on a potential election-year issue, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., assailed the SEC plan -- first proposed by President Bush in early March.

Teen gives guilty pleas to California killings

EL CAJON, Calif. -- A teenager pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder for a shooting spree last year that left two dead at a suburban San Diego high school.

Charles "Andy" Williams, 16, entered the plea in during what had been scheduled as a readiness hearing.

The six-minute spree of violence at Santana High School in Santee killed Bryan Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 17. Eleven other students, a teacher and a campus monitor were wounded.

--From wire reports

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