National News

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county.

Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors.

“Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors.

The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defense in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor.

Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more.


White reported from Detroit.


MOUNT POCONO, Pa. (AP) — Authorities early Tuesday lifted a shelter-in-place order hours after a string of shootings left at least four people injured in a community in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.

Authorities tweeted that while the investigation was ongoing, they did not believe the public was in “imminent danger.”

Shots rang out on Monday not far from each other in at least four different areas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania. A woman was flown to a hospital with a gunshot wound to her back, while another victim appeared to be shot in the head, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner said at a news conference, during which he said no suspects had been arrested.

One of the other victims suffered a gunshot to the arm and the fourth victim was hit in the leg. None of their medical conditions were disclosed.

Police were interviewing people of interest in the shootings, which they believe were connected. Police have also requested multiple search warrants and have witnesses, Wagner said.

The Monroe County Office of Emergency Management tweeted at about 8:48 p.m. EST that residents “on the 196 corridor between Pocono Country Place and Pocono Farms East” should shelter in place and report any suspicious activity. The order was lifted just after 3 a.m. Tuesday.

In a separate statement, the office said police located multiple victims at the first reported shooting in the Pocono Country Place neighborhood. A second shooting was reported at a nearby shopping center, followed by a third shooting along Pennsylvania Route 196 with a victim and a fourth shooting nearby with another victim, the office said.


BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — A car thief who found a toddler in the backseat of a stolen vehicle drove back and chastised the mother for leaving the child unattended before taking off again, police in Oregon said.

The woman went into a grocery store about 15 feet (5 yards) from the car Saturday, leaving her 4-year-old child inside with the engine running and the vehicle unlocked, said Beaverton police spokesman Officer Matt Henderson.

A store employee told authorities the woman was in the market for a few minutes before someone began driving away with the SUV.

Once the thief realized the toddler was in the backseat, he drove back, berated the woman for leaving her child unattended, told the woman to take the child and drove away in the stolen vehicle.

“He actually lectured the mother for leaving the child in the car and threatened to call the police on her,” Henderson said.

Henderson said the woman did nothing wrong and was within sight and sound of the child. He said the incident served as a “good reminder to take extra precaution” with children.

“Obviously, we’re thankful he brought the little one back and had the decency to do that,” Henderson said.

The vehicle was found a few hours later in Portland but police are still searching for the thief. The suspect was said to be in his 20s or 30s with dark brown or black braided hair and a multi-colored face mask.

Police said anyone with information on the theft should contact the department.


MOUNT POCONO, Pa. (AP) — At least four people were injured Monday in a string of shootings that prompted an order to shelter in place for a Pennsylvania community in the Pocono Mountains, authorities said.

Shots rang out not far from each other in at least four different areas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania. A woman was flown to a hospital with a gunshot wound to her back, while another victim appeared to be shot in the head, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Chris Wagner said at a Monday night news conference, during which he said no suspects had been arrested.

Police were interviewing people of interest in the shootings, which they believe were connected. Police have also requested multiple search warrants and have witnesses, Wagner said.

One of the other victims suffered a gunshot to the arm and the fourth victim was hit in the leg. None of their medical conditions were disclosed Monday night.

The Monroe County Office of Emergency Management tweeted at about 8:48 p.m. EST that residents “on the 196 corridor between Pocono Country Place and Pocono Farms East” should shelter in place and report any suspicious activity.

In a separate statement, the office said police located multiple victims at the first reported shooting in the Pocono Country Place neighborhood. A second shooting was reported at a nearby shopping center, followed by a third shooting along Pennsylvania Route 196 with a victim and a fourth shooting nearby with another victim, the office said.


DALLAS (AP) — The FBI has arrested two more Texas men for alleged crimes related to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Guy Reffitt was arrested Friday at his home in Wylie, a city about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of downtown Dallas, according to court records. An FBI spokeswoman said Matthew Carl Mazzocco, 37, was also arrested without incident in San Antonio on Sunday.

Reffitt is charged with obstruction of justice and unlawful entry. According to an affidavit, the 48-year-old was recorded on video outside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot and later threatened his wife and children if they turned him in.

Mazzocco is charged with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, the FBI spokeswoman said. He is set to make a first appearance in a San Antonio federal court Tuesday, and more information was not immediately available on the charges against him.

An attorney could not be immediately identified for either man Monday.

FBI agents found an AR-15 rifle and a pistol during their search of Reffitt's home, according to the affidavit. The court document states that Reffitt’s wife told agents he is a member of the anti-government Three Percenters movement.

Reffitt told agents he was at the Capitol but did not go inside, according to the affidavit.

More than 125 people have been arrested so far on charges related to the violent insurrection led by supporters of President Donald Trump at the Capitol, where a Capitol police officer and four others were killed.

Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” was arrested in Houston Saturday. A Dallas-area real estate agent, a retired Air Force officer and several other Texas residents have also been charged with crimes tied to the insurrection.

Charges from the riot range from curfew violations to serious federal felonies related to theft and weapons possession.


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — In a dig at the outgoing Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden introduced his slate of scientific advisers Saturday with the promise that they would summon “science and truth” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, climate crisis and other challenges.

“This is the most exciting announcement I’ve gotten to make,” Biden said after weeks of Cabinet and other nominations and appointments. “This is a team that is going to help restore your faith in America’s place in the frontier of science and discovery.”

Biden is elevating the position of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first, and said that Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome who is in line to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is “one of the most brilliant guys I know.”

The president-elect, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Lander and other top science advisers never mentioned Trump's name, but they framed the inauguration Wednesday as a clean break from a president who downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and declared the science behind climate change to be a hoax.

“The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan,” Harris said. “The same laws apply, the same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.”

Biden emphasized how scientific research leads to practical progress and better quality of life, from the COVID-19 vaccines and new cancer treatments to clean energy expansion that reduces carbon emissions.

“Science is discovery. It’s not fiction,” Biden said. “It’s also about hope.”

And, again without naming Trump, the president-elect said one of his team’s tasks will be to gird public faith in science and its usefulness.

Lander added that Biden has tasked his advisers and “the whole scientific community and the American public” to “rise to this moment."

Biden and Harris also veered from their prepared texts to hold up the scientists as examples to children across the country.

“Superheroes aren’t just about our imagination,” Harris said. “They are walking among us. They are teachers and doctors and scientists, they are vaccine researchers ... and you can grow up to be like them, too.”

Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome. He would be the first life scientist to have that White House job. His predecessor is a meteorologist.

The president-elect is retaining the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, who worked with Lander on the human genome project. Biden also named two prominent female scientists to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology chemical engineer who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and MIT vice president for research and geophysics professor Maria Zuber will lead the outside science advisory council. Lander held that position during Obama administration.

Biden picked Alondra Nelson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, a social scientist who studies science, technology and social inequality, as deputy science policy chief.

The president-elect noted the team's diversity and repeated his promise that his administration's science policy and investments would target historically disadvantaged and underserved communities.

Nelson celebrated that commitment.

“As a Black woman researcher, I am keenly aware of those who are missing from these rooms,” she said. “I believe we have a responsibility to work together to make sure that our science and technology reflects us ... who we truly are together.”

Science organizations were quick to praise Lander and the promotion of the science post to Cabinet level. The job as director of science and technology policy requires Senate confirmation.

Elevating the position "clearly signals the administration's intent to involve scientific expertise in every policy discussion,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.

Lander, also a mathematician, is a professor of biology at both Harvard and MIT and his work has been cited nearly half a million times in scientific literature, one of the most among scientists. He has won numerous science prizes, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and a Breakthrough Prize, and is one of Pope Francis' scientific advisers.

“As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I saw America go to the moon,” Lander said, adding that “no nation is better equipped than America to lead the search for solutions” that “advance our health, our economic welfare and our national security.”


Borenstein reported from Kensington, Maryland.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A heavy metal guitarist who was photographed with the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol and is accused of spraying police officers with a pepper-based bear spray irritant has been arrested, the FBI said.

Jon Ryan Schaffer turned himself in Sunday after he was featured on an FBI poster seeking the public's help in identifying rioters, said Chris Bavender, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Indianapolis office. He has been charged with several felony counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry.

It wasn't immediately known if Schaffer, a central Indiana native who is a member of the band “Iced Earth," had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf and online federal court records Monday didn't yet list his case.

The Indianapolis Star reported that Schaffer had been sought after, according to a federal statement about his case, he was seen in photographs and on video "engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police inside the Capitol building” and holding a container of bear spray that's sold by outdoor retailers.

Schaffer is a supporter of President Donald Trump who has voiced various conspiracy theories, once telling a German news station that a shadowy criminal enterprise is trying to run the world under a communist agenda and that he and others are prepared to fight, with violence.

According to a statement filed in federal court by an FBI agent, Schaffer “has long held far-right extremist views.” The statement said that: "During an interview in 2017, Schaffer ... referred to the federal government as a ‘criminal enterprise.’ During that same interview, Schaffer stated that the 2016 presidential election was ‘rigged.’”

Thousands of Trump supporters poured into the Capitol on Jan. 6 after a rally in which Trump and others repeated unsubstantiated claims that the election that he lost to former Vice President Joe Biden was rigged against him. People across the country are charged in the riot.

Four of Schaffer’s “Iced Earth” bandmates put out a statement on Instagram and Facebook condemning the violence that rioters were involved in, saying: “We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions.”


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — In a story January 16, 2021, about Republican leaders invoking war rhetoric, The Associated Press incorrectly referred to an incoming chairwoman of the Michigan GOP. Instead, she is the incoming party co-chair. A corrected version of the story is below.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol.

According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was “caught up” in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

A video posted to Griffin's personal Facebook page shows Griffin in the restricted areas, according to the affidavit.

Griffin did not immediately respond to phone or text messages seeking comment.

On Thursday, Griffin, said he planned to travel with firearms to Washington, D.C., for Biden’s inauguration.

“I’m gonna be there on Jan. 20 ... and I’m gonna take a stand for our country and for our freedoms,” Griffin said during a meeting of the Otero County Board of Commissioners.

“I’m gonna leave either tonight or tomorrow. I’ve got a .357 Henry Big Boy rifle lever action that I’ve got in the trunk of my car and I’ve got a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero that I’ll have underneath the front seat on my right side and I will embrace my Second Amendment,” he said.


Associated Press journalist Morgan Lee contributed to this report.


To most Americans, the sight of armed National Guard troops sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda this past week was shocking and disturbing. To me, it was an echo of the far-distant past.

“Don’t despond,” Maj. Bowman Bigelow Breed wrote to his anxious wife back home in Massachusetts as his comrades lounged around him on the polished marble floors in the grand hall that was now their bivouac. “You must know by this time that we are here in safety. We may have to fight but my own opinion is that the overwhelming force concentrated here will prevent an attack.”

Insurrection was in the air, and these citizen soldiers had been called up to secure the seat of government.

The date was April 27, 1861. The writer was surgeon of the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.

My great-grandfather.

Having transcribed my great-grandparents’ Civil War correspondence, I knew that Bowman’s unit had spent the first days of the war bivouacked in what he called “the Hall of the Dome.” Harper’s Weekly published an illustration of the 8th’s men, their weapons leaned against the marble walls or stacked, bayonets intertwined, like fodder shocks in a farmer’s field.

“I wish you could look in on us this morning and see how comfortably we are settled here,” he wrote in that first missive, scribbled on letterhead for the “Thirty Sixth Congress House of representatives.”

The regiment called itself “the Minutemen,” after those New England patriots who grabbed their muskets and rushed to face the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord in April 1775. My great-grandmother, Hannah Pope Breed, was descended from one of those men.

And, so, when President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the inusrrection of the Southern states, there was no question but that Bowman -- privileged son of a wealthy industrialist -- would go.

The 8th headed south just four days after rebels opened fire on Fort Sumter. Passing through hostile territory in slaveholding Maryland, Bowman was unable to fulfill his promise to write every day.

“How I have suffered when I knew that all communication was cut off and that you were torn hour after hour by the terrible suspense of hope deferred,” he apologized to Hannah, who was left alone to care for their infant son, Isaiah. “Don’t despond my darling. God will preserve us all and in time of war you must have faith in the handy old proverb that no news is good news.”

While the enlisted men slept in the rotunda, the 10 officers shared a small room just off the main hall.

“A little room opening from that serves for my hospital, very small and very inconvenient,” Bowman wrote. “I have not been able to open my medical stores yet and can use only what I can carry about in my bag. I have been on the run Ever since I came here, trying to arrange matters, but red tape rules here and I have been referred from one to another till I am tired out.”

The Capitol was undergoing a massive expansion. The regimental chaplain held services in the old Senate chamber.

“The men all stood in a circle with the officers on one side and the chaplain in the centre,” he wrote. “He made a very appropriate prayer and then we all sang, `Praise God from whom all blessings flow.’”

The day after their arrival, Bowman and his comrades were treated to a visit from Secretary of State William H. Seward and the president himself.

“We were all introduced and had quite a chat with them,” he wrote. “They were both in good spirits. Lincoln said that if the city had been as unprotected then as it was a week before it would have been taken.”

The regiment was drawn up, Bowman said, “and the Pres made them a little speach.” It was early in the Republican’s first term, and most did not yet know what to make of this “dirty Hoosier,” as Hannah referred to the Kentucky-born, Indiana-bred Lincoln.

“All that has Ever been said of Lincolns awkwardness is mild compared with the reality,” Bowman wrote. “Some of his gestures would make the fortune of a circus clown.”

Nonetheless, the new president inspired confidence in the citizen soldiers.

“The men gave three cheers for Lincoln, three for Seward and three rouses for the Union,” Bowman wrote.

When the 8th was stationed there, the higher, more ornate Capitol dome was not yet complete. As the war dragged on, critics suggested that the costly work be halted.

Lincoln felt otherwise.

“If people see the Capitol going on,” he said, “it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.”

Bowman would serve throughout the entire war. As painful as their separation would be, he told Hannah in that first letter from Washington, he hoped that the struggle was “the means God in his goodness has provided to remove the dark cloud under which we have seemed to be resting for so long.”

“I have faith to believe that all our steps are ordered for the best,” he wrote. “Let our prayers mingle now as heretofore and all the blessing of a holy calm will descend, to strengthen us.”


Allen G. Breed, a native of Lynn, Massachusetts, is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.


CHICAGO (AP) — A 61-year-old woman became the fourth person to die from a series of shootings this month by a Chicago gunman who was later killed in a suburban police shootout, authorities said Sunday.

Marta Torres, an Evanston woman who had been in critical condition for a week after being shot at an IHOP, died Saturday at a hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. Her autopsy was scheduled for Sunday.

According to police, 32-year-old Jason Nightengale, of Chicago, shot seven people in a series of attacks Jan. 9 over a roughly four-hour period. Most of the attacks happened on Chicago's South Side before Nightengale drove to Evanston, just north of the city, where he shot Torres before officers killed him during a shootout. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 81 years old.

Authorities have not released a motive in the killings, which they described as random. Nightengale posted numerous disturbing and nonsensical short videos on Facebook before the killings. In one one he brandished a gun; in another he threatened to “blow up the whole community.”

The other three people who were killed were Yiran Fan, a 30-year-old University of Chicago student from China, 20-year-old Anthony Faulkner and 46-year-old security guard Aisha Nevell.

Updated conditions on the three others injured, a 15-year-old girl, 77-year-old woman and 81-year-old woman, were not immediately available.

Tiffany McNeal, the mother of the 15-year-old girl, Damia Smith, told The Chicago Tribune last week that her daughter was fighting for her life at a children's hospital.

“She’s holding on,” McNeal said. “They’re just saying it’s not looking good. But I’m believing. I’m believing in God.”

Nightenagle, a father of twin girls, listed work over the years as a janitor, security guard and forklift operator, according to his LinkedIn page.

“He was fighting some demons,” a relative, Annette Nightengale, told The Chicago Sun-Times. “He had some problems.”


Some beetles go to great — and disgusting — lengths for their children.

They scout for a dead mouse or bird, dig a hole and bury it, pluck its fur or feathers, roll its flesh into a ball and cover it in goop — all to feed their future offspring.

Now scientists think that goo might do more than just slow decay. It also appears to hide the scent of the decomposing bounty and boosts another odor that repels competitors.

“It helps them to hide their resource from others," said Stephen Trumbo, who studies animal behavior at the University of Connecticut and led the new research, published Thursday in The American Naturalist. “They try to keep everyone away."

The beetles — called burying beetles — aren't the only creatures who try to deceive their competitors or prey with subtle, sneaky tactics. Large blue butterflies, for example, will imitate certain sounds to manipulate ants. Corpse flowers produce rotting odors to attract insect pollinators that feed on decomposing matter.

The importance of these interactions are being recognized more and more, said Alexandre Figueiredo, a biologist at University of Zurich, who was not involved in the new study.

Burying beetles and other things that feed on dead animals — including vultures, opossums and maggots — race each other to track down carcasses. Competition is stiff even among burying beetles, which use special antennae to detect the remains from afar.

Burying beetles are relatively large, about an inch long, and black with orange markings. The gut secretions they spread on a carcass are antibacterial, and slow down decomposition. Trumbo and his colleagues wondered whether they also prevented rivals from picking up the scent.

To find out, they collected the gases wafting off dead hairless mice preserved by a kind of burying beetle that is found in forests across North America. The researchers then compared the gases to those from untouched carcasses.

The beetle-prepped ones gave off much less of an onion-smelling compound that usually attracts burying beetles to fresh remains. They also discovered an increase in another gas from decay that's known to deter other insects that feed on dead animals.

Next, they dropped off the dead mice in a Connecticut forest. They found the beetle's rivals were less likely to discover the ones covered in goop.

“If you can deter other scavengers, even for a little bit of time, it can buy you a lot,” said Daniel Rozen, a biologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who was not involved in the new study.


Follow at @MarionRenault on Twitter


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lottery players have another chance to win big next week since there were no winners of the top prize for both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots in their most recent drawings.

The Powerball jackpot grew to an estimated $730 million after no one matched all five numbers and the red ball in the drawing on Saturday night. If a lottery player strikes big in the next Powerball drawing on Wednesday, it would be the fifth-largest jackpot ever in the United States.

The winning numbers were 67, 20, 65, 14, 39, and the Powerball was 02.

No one beat the odds in Friday's Mega Millions drawing, so that jackpot grew to an estimated $850 million. That would be the third-largest jackpot ever if there's a winner of the top prize for the drawing on Tuesday.

It's been nearly two years since a lottery jackpot has grown so large. No one has won either game’s top prize in months.

The listed jackpot amounts refer to winners who opt for an annuity, paid over 30 years. Winners nearly always choose cash prizes, which for Powerball would be $546 million. The estimated cash prize for the next Mega Millions jackpot is $628.2 million.

Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico.


AROMAS, Calif. (AP) — People throughout the San Francisco Bay area on Saturday night reported feeling a magnitude 4.2 earthquake that hit the region.

The earthquake hit 8:01 p.m and had an epicenter about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southeast of Aromas, a town of about 2,650 people that straddles Monterey and San Benito counties, the U.S. Geological Survey said. About five minutes later, the same area was hit by a 3.0 temblor, the agency said.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that social media activity indicates that the earthquake was felt not only in the counties near where it was centered, but at least as far as San Francisco and Contra Costa counties.

There were no immediate reports of any major injuries or damage, the newspaper said.

The initial quake was the second-biggest earthquake in California this year, the Mercury News said. A 4.3 earthquake was reported Jan. 2 near Pinnacles National Park, also in the Monterey County region, the newspaper reported.


NEW YORK (AP) — The driver of a New York City bus that plunged off a bridge blamed the dramatic crash on mechanical failure, saying Saturday that the tandem vehicle “just took off” as he slowed into a turn.

Everton Beccan, 55, disputed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's assertion a day earlier that he had refused to submit to a drug and alcohol test at the hospital.

“There’s no reason for me to refuse a drug test,” Beccan, who broke his jaw in late Thursday's crash, said at a news conference following his release from the hospital. “I’m just thankful that no one lost their life.”

The MTA on Saturday released an internal document that says Beccan refused three times to submit a urine sample to the transit agency. The test Beccan ultimately took was done by the hospital and wasn't conducted until several hours after the crash, the agency said.

Transit officials said Friday they had been concerned by Beccan's failure to submit to the test even after he passed an alcohol breath test. The MTA said the driver has been “withheld from service without pay” amid the investigation.

“This is obviously troubling,” said Patrick Warren, the MTA’s chief safety and security officer.

Beccan said the results of his drug test are pending.

He offered a harrowing account of the articulated bus plunging 50 feet (15 meters) onto a highway ramp near an interchange of the Cross Bronx and Major Deegan expressways.

The crash happened at a turn he has made “hundreds of times” along his regular route, he said, adding he lost control of the bus after easing up on the gas pedal. “The bus just accelerated,” he said. “The bus just took off on its own.”

As the crash unfolded, Beccan said, he was thinking of the passengers' safety and his own. He said he “helped who I could help” and called 911.

“Everybody was just screaming,” Beccan said. “Everybody was in a panic.”

Seven passengers suffered minor injuries after one part of the bus plunged onto the access road. The other half remained on the bridge. No other vehicles were involved.

The MTA said Saturday that Beccan was driving “almost five times the allowable speed for a bus making the turn being attempted.” The agency said investigators “have thus far identified no mechanical cause for the failure to remain on the road and to travel at allowable speed for the conditions,” citing the bus' on-board event recorder.

Beccan has more than 11 years of service and a good safety record, the MTA said.


HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi owner of pharmacies and pharmacy distributors has been sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to repay the government nearly $287.7 million for his part in what prosecutors described as a $510 million health care fraud involving high-priced pain cream.

Wade Ashley Walters, 54, of Hattiesburg, also was ordered at Friday's sentencing to forfeit nearly $56.6 million that he gained personally from the scheme, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Walters had been charged in a 37-count indictment. He pleaded guilty in July to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Sentencing was conducted Friday by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett.

“The fraud committed by Walters and others in this investigation wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and deprived individuals of needed medical care,” said David P. Burns, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

He called it a “significant sentence” and said prosecutors and their agency partners are committed to rooting out health care fraud schemes and bringing those responsible to justice.

Between 2012 and 2016, Walters orchestrated a scheme to defraud Tricare, the insurance program for U.S. military, veterans, and their families, and private health insurers by distributing compounded medications that were not needed, prosecutors said.

Walters said he objected to being called the kingpin of what is most likely the state’s largest fraud case, saying he didn’t start the fraud but got involved once it had begun, the Hattiesburg American reported.

Starrett, however, told Walters the fraud would never have gotten so big if it had not been for Walters’ involvement, “not nearly to the extent that it was.”

“You organized and orchestrated the fraud by your management skills,” Starrett told Walters. “You involved so many people — good people. Maybe they would not have been involved if they hadn’t been recruited.”

On Friday, Walters apologized for his actions, saying he didn’t really know what he was getting involved in until it was too late and his pride would not let him back out.

“By then the stakes were too high,” he said. “I thought I should get out of it. I regret that I didn’t see that right away.”

He also apologized to his family and friends for causing them pain and embarrassment.

“I’m tired,” he said. “I’m ready to move on and serve my time.”

Walters was taken into custody immediately following the hearing.


JAN. 9 - 15, 2021

This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published in the past week by The Associated Press from around the world.

The selection was curated by AP photo editor Patrick Sison in New York.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell stayed the decision to confine Richard Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial, and instead ordered that Barnett be brought to Washington “forthwith” for proceedings in his case.

The decision came hours after a judge in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor to track his location. U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann's ruling also prohibited Barnett from using the internet or having contact with anyone else who participated in the Jan. 6 violence.

Barnett was among supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol as lawmakers assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Five people died during the violent insurrection, including a Capitol police officer. During a nearly five-hour hearing Friday via video conference, federal prosecutors had argued that Barnett should remain in custody.

“If (Barnett) will travel across the country and engage in this level of criminal behavior because he believes that he is right and it is the Electoral College that is wrong, what would deter him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Harris said.

Barnett is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area with a lethal weapon— a stun gun. Barnett is also charged with disorderly conduct and theft of public property. He faces up to 11 1/2 months in prison if convicted.

“I think your honor can shape a release order that provides a sufficient array of conditions that will allow my client to be released, that will allow my client to effectively defend himself and... will allow him to build enough of a ‘fence' around him that if he stumbles, it will be brought to your honor's attention almost immediately," Anthony Siano, Barnett's attorney, told the judge during the hearing.

He surrendered voluntarily Jan. 8 to FBI agents at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has remained in the Washington County jail since then.

During Friday's hearing, prosecutors showed pictures of Barnett sitting at a desk in Pelosi's office and Capitol security video of him inside the building. They also showed footage of him bragging on a bullhorn to a crowd outside the Capitol about taking an envelope from the speaker's office. Prosecutors also cited concerns that Barnett had not turned over the stun gun or the cell phone he took with him to Washington.


DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas-area real estate agent who is facing charges for allegedly being part of the pro-President Donald Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week said she's a “normal person" who listened to her president.

Jenna Ryan, 50, is accused of “knowingly” entering or remaining in the restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI in a Washington federal court.

Matt DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas office, confirmed that Ryan had turned herself in and that her Carrollton apartment was searched Friday. No personal telephone for Ryan was available, and court records didn't list a lawyer for her as of Friday.

Ryan shared photos and videos on social media, including a video in which she says, “We’re gonna go down and storm the Capitol,” in front of a bathroom mirror, according to the FBI criminal complaint.

The agent who signed the complaint also noted that Ryan live-streamed a 21-minute Facebook video of her and a group walking toward the Capitol.

“We are going to (expletive) go in here,” Ryan said in the video as she approached the top of the stairs on the west side of the Capitol building. “Life or death, it doesn’t matter. Here we go.”

She then turned the camera to expose her face, the complaint noted, and said, “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor, Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.” Nearly halfway through, Ryan appears to have made it to the front door, chanting, “USA, USA” and “Here we are, in the name of Jesus.”

In an interview with KTVT-TV in Fort Worth, Ryan said she hoped that Trump would pardon her.

“I just want people to know I’m a normal person, that I listen to my president who told me to go to the Capitol, that I was displaying my patriotism while I was there and I was just protesting and I wasn’t trying to do anything violent and I didn’t realize there was actually violence,” Ryan said.

Ryan is the third person in FBI's Dallas region of northern, northeastern and near western Texas to be named in criminal complaints, DeSarno said.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Grand Prairie, another Dallas suburb, was released to home confinement Thursday after a prosecutor alleged the former fighter pilot had zip-tie handcuffs on the Senate floor because he planned to take hostages.

Troy Anthony Smocks, 58, of Dallas, was arrested Friday after a criminal complaint was filed in Washington accusing him of “knowingly and willfully transmitting threats in interstate commerce."

Court documents allege that Smocks used social media to post threats on Jan. 6-7 regarding the riots. The threats included that he and others would return to the U.S. Capitol Tuesday with weapons and form a mass so large that no army could match them. He threatened they would “hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are,” specifically threatening Republicans not allied with them, Democrats and “and Tech Execs," according to a court affidavit.

Smocks could not be reached for comment, and no attorney for him is listed in court records.

Also Friday, the first Houston-area resident to be accused of participating in the riot was arrested. In a criminal complaint filed in Washington, the FBI accuses Joshua Lollar, 39, of Spring, of being the spearhead of a group trying unsuccessfully to break through a line of Washington Metropolitan police officers into the Capitol.

Lollar was charged with violent entry, unauthorized presence in a restricted area and impeding law enforcement during a civil disorder. He remains in federal custody pending a Tuesday detention hearing. No attorney for him is listed in court records.


BOSTON (AP) — The manslaughter case against a former Boston College student accused of encouraging her boyfriend to take his own life will head toward trial, prosecutors said Friday.

A court this week partially denied the defense's motion to dismiss, finding that Inyoung You’s words could have caused Alexander Urtula to kill himself, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office said. The judge did dismiss one of the prosecution's theories, ruling that You’s failure to summon help didn't cause his suicide, Rollins' office said.

Prosecutors say You sent Urtula, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, thousands of messages in the last two months of their relationship, including many urging him to “go kill yourself.” Urtula died in Boston on May 20, the day of his Boston College graduation.

The case grimly echoes that of Michelle Carter, who garnered headlines and an HBO film. The young Massachusetts woman was sentenced to 15 months in jail after she was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for using text messages and phone calls to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself in 2014.

An attorney for You said the defense is pleased that the court dismissed one of the prosecution's two theories.

“With respect to the single remaining theory, the Court noted that this is an incredibly complex area of law and that unlike in the Carter case Ms. You repeatedly begged her boyfriend not to commit suicide. We think this is a critical fact which will ultimately exonerate Ms. You,” Howard Cooper said in a statement.


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