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story.lead_photo.caption The sun sets Thursday behind a monument honoring veterans of the Spanish American War in Pottsville, Pa.

Charges filed in elder-fraud operation

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department said Thursday that it has criminally charged about 225 suspects in the past year over scams that victimize people age 60 and older.

Attorney General William Barr and other law enforcement officials announced what they said was the department's largest-ever nationwide crackdown on elder fraud schemes. In addition to the criminal charges, the department has filed civil cases against dozens of other defendants. All told, officials said, there were more than 260 criminal and civil charges filed in the past year.

"This is a particularly despicable crime, and it's a massive and growing problem," Barr said at a news conference. "It's despicable because the people involved are vulnerable and because of their stage in life, they don't have the opportunity frequently to recover. And so these losses are devastating to them."

Among the defendants identified by the department are two people who prosecutors say ran a telemarketing scam out of Costa Rica and swindled victims by telling them they had won prizes in sweepstakes contests and needed to transfer large sums to collect the prizes. The two were extradited to face charges in North Carolina.

Among the would-be victims highlighted were William Webster, the former director of the FBI and CIA, and his wife, Lynda. The couple described at the news conference how they were targeted by a man from Jamaica who threatened them and sought to extort millions of dollars over the course of several years. The Websters involved the FBI, which arrested the man after he arrived in the U.S.

Leaker Manning faces contempt charge

Former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning faces possible jail time after refusing to answer a grand jury's questions about her disclosure of classified State Department cables and war logs in 2010 to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Manning, 31, said that a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., scheduled a contempt hearing for today and that she could be sent to jail, less than two years after she was released from a military prison for her leaks.

Manning, who said she was given immunity for her grand jury testimony, said she was asked questions about information covered in her "extensive" testimony during her 2013 court-martial. "I responded to each question with the following statement: 'I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.' "

The same judge refused to quash the subpoena against Manning in a sealed hearing Tuesday.

Manning is one of several people who have been called in recent months to aid the investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, who has been charged under seal.

Military leaders apologize for poor housing

WASHINGTON -- Top leaders of the U.S. military services apologized to Congress on Thursday for allowing substandard living conditions in military family housing. They also acknowledged failing to have fully understood the problem earlier and promised to fix it.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the civilian and uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps laid blame largely on the private contractors who built the homes and are obliged to keep them in good repair. The officials vowed to renegotiate the long-term, multibillion-dollar contracts to ensure more accountability.

"I want to start by first apologizing personally on behalf of the Department of the Navy to any sailor, Marine, soldier, airman, Coast Guardsman that was affected by the housing malady," said Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

The issues include lead poisoning hazards, mold and pest infestations. They are in housing built and maintained on military bases by private contractors who are accused of providing inadequate repairs.

Army Secretary Mark Esper told the Senate Armed Services Committee his service had failed to properly supervise the housing issues. He has vowed to fully investigate

Lethal-injection doubt delays executions

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday has delayed three more executions to give the Ohio prison system time to develop a new lethal-injection method, responding to a federal judge's scathing critique of the first drug used in the current process.

Federal Magistrate Judge Michael Merz said in January that inmates could suffer severe pain and an experience similar to waterboarding because the drug, the sedative midazolam, doesn't render adequate unconsciousness.

DeWine, a Republican, delayed a February execution after the judge's ruling and ordered the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to develop a new process.

DeWine said Thursday it was "highly unlikely" any new injection process would make it through expected lawsuits in time for the next three executions.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

Photo by AP
Two bald eagles tend to an egg Thursday in California’s San Bernardino National Forest. U.S. Forest Service biologist Robin Eliason says the parent birds will share incubation duties. The egg is expected to hatch in early April.

A Section on 03/08/2019

Print Headline: Lethal-injection doubt delays executions Leaker Manning faces contempt charge threatened with jail , says leaker Charges filed in elder-fraud operation U.S. charges 225 people in fraud scams Chels...

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