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Army: Soldiers stole $13.1-million in cash

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 24, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Army commanders said Wednesday that American military personnel took $13.1-million from huge caches of U.S. currency that were found by fellow soldiers in a neighborhood once home to senior Iraqi officials.

Investigators have recovered all of the money, officials said, and commanders have ordered soldiers not to search for more hidden cash in the area where they discovered $656-million in cottages Friday. Civil affairs officers Tuesday found $112-million more in the same area.

A soldier had pangs of guilt and told investigators where to find the cash, said Lt. Col. Philip deCamp. That soldier has been cleared, he said, but five others are still under investigation.

Clue may hint at long-missing pilot

U.S. investigators in Iraq have found what may be a clue to the only American missing from the first Persian Gulf War: the initials of Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher, etched into a prison wall in Baghdad.

It is unknown who scrawled the letters "MSS" on a cell wall in the Hakmiyah prison, said U.S. officials, or whether the letters had anything to do with the missing pilot.

The Associated Press reported, quoting unnamed officials, that an informer said a U.S. pilot was held at the prison in the mid 1990s.

Lt. Cmdr. Speicher, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot from Jacksonville, and three other pilots went on a bombing run over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991; he never returned.

Accident kills 3 Marines, hurts 7

DOHA, Qatar -- Three Marines were killed and seven injured in an accident in Iraq on Tuesday while they were handling a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, U.S. Central Command said.

The Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were firing the RPG to familiarize themselves with it. It malfunctioned, U.S. officials said.

The accident occurred Tuesday evening in a remote area near the southern Iraqi city of Kut, officials said. The names of the Marines were being withheld until their next of kin could be notified.

Illicit souvenirs seized; charge filed

WASHINGTON -- Several journalists and a U.S. serviceman have been caught trying to slip paintings, gold-plated assault weapons and other war souvenirs into the United States. None came from the Iraqi National Museum.

Benjamin Johnson, an engineer for Fox News Channel, was charged and accused of trying to bring 12 paintings, 40 Iraqi monetary bonds and other items through Dulles Airport on April 17. Fox News said it fired him.

In Boston, federal prosecutors declined to prosecute Jules Crittenden, a Boston Herald reporter who returned from Kuwait on Saturday with a looted Iraqi painting and other items. Crittenden declared the items.

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