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Nation in brief

Lawmakers charged in bribery scandal

By wire services
Published May 27, 2005

NASHVILLE - Four state lawmakers, including a member of one of Tennessee's most powerful political families, were indicted Thursday, accused of taking bribes from FBI agents posing as representatives of an electronics-recycling company.

In a sting operation, the FBI set up a bogus company called E-Cycle Management Inc., then doled out payoffs to lawmakers to sponsor a bill that would allow the business to buy and sell used electronic equipment from the state. The bill was withdrawn Wednesday.

One of the lawmakers charged, state Sen. John Ford, a Democrat, allegedly received payments totaling $55,000, beginning last year. Ford faces a charge of attempting to threaten or intimidate potential witnesses by telling an undercover agent that "if he caught someone trying to set him up he would shoot that person," prosecutors said.

The other defendants - state Sens. Kathryn Bowers and Ward Crutchfield, both Democrats, and state Rep. Chris Newton, a republican - were accused of accepting lesser amounts. A former state senator, Roscoe Dixon, was also charged, as were two non-elected officials.

Ford's brother is Harold Ford, who served 11 terms in Congress. His nephew Rep. Harold Ford Jr. has served five terms in Congress and said Wednesday he would run in 2006 for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist.

DNA tests raise hopes missing kids are alive

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Preliminary DNA tests showed no traces of the blood of two missing children in the home where three other people were slain, raising hopes that Dylan and Shasta Groene are still alive, officials said Thursday.

Only the blood of the three murder victims - the missing children's mother and older brother and the mother's boyfriend - was found at the scene, according to initial analysis by the FBI.

Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, have been missing since the three bodies were discovered in the rural home on May 16. Investigators believe the children were in the house as the victims were bound and bludgeoned, and may have been abducted by the killers.

Judge rules against officer of PAC founded by DeLay

AUSTIN, Texas - The treasurer of a political action committee formed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay broke the law by not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, a judge ruled Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Democratic candidates.

State District Judge Joe Hart said the money, much of it corporate contributions, should have been reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.

The judge ordered Bill Ceverha, treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority, to pay nearly $200,000 in damages.

The civil case is separate from a criminal investigation being conducted by the district attorney in Austin into whether the PAC funneled illegal corporate contributions to GOP candidates for the state Legislature. Three of DeLay's top fundraisers and eight corporations were indicted last year. Ceverha has not been charged.

DeLay has not been charged with a crime.

[Last modified May 27, 2005, 00:41:05]

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