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Nation in brief

Judge declares mistrial in 'Junior' Gotti retrial

By wire services
Published March 11, 2006

NEW YORK - Gambino crime family scion John A. "Junior" Gotti dodged a legal bullet for the second time in eight months Friday when a federal jury deadlocked on racketeering charges against him, leading to a mistrial.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin excused jurors after they said they were at an impasse despite less than two full days of deliberations. Prosecutors quickly said they intended to try Gotti, 42, a third time, and the judge indicated she would set a new trial date Monday.

"I'm happy," said Gotti, who hugged his mother after leaving the courtroom. "I'm financially ruined, but what are you gonna do?"

The mistrial came after jurors sent out a note that further deliberations would be fruitless. "We are completely DEADLOCKED," the note said. "More time will not change the views in this room."

The note continued, "P.S. We want to leave ASAP."

Former Bush adviser arrested on theft charges

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A former domestic policy adviser to President Bush has been charged with theft for allegedly receiving phony refunds at department stores.

Claude Alexander Allen, 45, was arrested Thursday by Montgomery County police for allegedly claiming refunds for more than $5,000 worth of merchandise he did not buy, according to county and federal authorities.

Allen was the No. 2 official in the Health and Human Services Department when Bush nominated him in April 2003 to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Bush nominated Allen to the court again a year later, but he never received a Senate vote.

In early 2005, Bush hired Allen as a domestic policy adviser. He resigned abruptly on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

5 Texas students killed in Mo. highway crash

KENNETT, Mo. - Five students from the University of Texas at Austin were killed on their way to a medical school conference when a semitrailer truck collided with their car, Missouri authorities said.

The state Highway Patrol said the crash happened Thursday night when the car carrying two men and three women attempted a U-turn on a two-lane highway.

Four of the students belonged to the pre-med honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta, which is having a conference this weekend in St. Louis.

Juan Gonzalez, vice president for student affairs at the Texas school, said the students were "a group of the best and brightest we have."

Cpl. Mike Scoggins said the two occupants of the truck were not injured in the crash in Dunklin County about 15 miles southwest of Kennett.

FDA panel rejects limit on platelet donations

WASHINGTON - A federal proposal to limit personal donations of platelets - the substance that makes blood clot - is headed back to the drawing board after government advisers said the new curb would drastically cut the nation's supply.

Platelets are chronically scarce, because they last just five days after they're donated. Regular transfusions are crucial for patients who can't make platelets on their own. As part of an overhaul of donation guidelines, the Food and Drug Administration had proposed limiting how many platelets someone could donate each year to about 24 pints.

Currently, the limit is on how often donors can give - 24 times a year. That could equal 72 pints a year since donors can give up to three pints at a time.

[Last modified March 11, 2006, 01:44:48]

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