Nation digest 09/07/02

West Nile virus may have reached California

LOS ANGELES -- A California woman has tested positive for the West Nile virus in what could be the first human case contracted in the western United States, health officials said Friday in announcing preliminary test results.

Conclusive results won't be known for another week.

The woman, who was not identified, became sick in August from meningitis, which is associated with the virus. She has since recovered.

She had not traveled outside the region, meaning the possible infection occurred locally, said Maria Iacobo, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Health Services.

The diagnosis surprised health officials because ongoing monitoring of birds and mosquitoes had shown no trace of the virus in California.

Brawl among inmates leaves 26 injured

SAUGUS, Calif. -- A jail brawl that drew in 300 to 400 people left more than two dozen inmates and a sheriff's deputy injured, authorities said.

The fight was sparked by racial tensions between blacks and Hispanics at the North County Correctional Facility, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Effland said.

An emergency response team quelled the disturbance Thursday night within 15 minutes, he said.

Two of the 26 injured inmates were taken to a local hospital for stabbing or slashing wounds that were not considered life threatening, Deputy Brian Lendman said.

Mob turncoat gets 20 years for dealing drugs

NEW YORK -- Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the mob turncoat who put John Gotti away, was sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison Friday for running a multimillion-dollar Ecstasy ring in Arizona.

U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross departed from sentencing guidelines that recommended no more than 15 1/2 years, saying the former underboss of the Gambino crime family "has shown an utter lack of remorse."

Gravano, a 57-year-old notorious killer who had avoided hard time by testifying against Mafia kingpins, did not speak during the hearing.

In 1994, Gravano received a five-year prison term for plotting 19 murders, receiving a break in exchange for his cooperation.

Rhode Island mayor sentenced to prison

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. was sentenced to more than five years in prison Friday.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres praised Cianci's political talents but criticized the veteran mayor for running an administration that was "rife with corruption."

Cianci, 61, plans to appeal the conviction. He is set to go to prison Dec. 6.

The mayor was convicted in June on a charge of racketeering conspiracy that accused him of masterminding a criminal enterprise that took bribes in exchange for tax breaks, favors and jobs with the city.

Even as the corruption was taking place, Providence was experiencing a rebirth, with new parks, a thriving arts scene and a sprawling new downtown mall.

Detroit mayor's police guard must salute him

DETROIT -- Police officers assigned to the mayor's security detail better not forget to salute or they could face disciplinary action.

A memo from 6th Precinct Inspector Oscar Dixon says that effective immediately "all members assigned to the security detail at the mayor's residence, upon seeing Mayor (Kwame) Kilpatrick exit his home or vehicle shall get out of their patrol vehicle with your hat on and render a hand salute."

Those who fail to salute, it says, "will be subject to disciplinary action." The memo doesn't say what the discipline could be.

Mayoral spokesman Jamaine Dickens said Kilpatrick noticed that more officers had been saluting lately. But Dickens said the mayor didn't know what was behind it.

"It may sound funny to some people. However, that is our protocol," Sgt. Ricardo Moore, a police spokesman, told the Detroit Free Press Friday.

-- From wire reports