National Roundup

California

Seafood company fined $1M for fishy labels

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Torrance, Calif.-based seafood corporation has been ordered to pay $1 million in fines and community service donations for falsely labeling frozen catfish fillets as grouper.

U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek says Seafood Solutions Inc. was fined $700,000 on Monday, and ordered to donate $300,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Seafood Solutions and two defendants were convicted on July 25, 2011, for trafficking in fish known to be transported and sold in violation of the U.S. Lacey Act.

Co-defendants Chau-Shing Lin and Christopher Ragone have pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 13.

The charitable donation is to be used to fund projects related to methodologies, databases and other research into the identification of marine organisms.

Kentucky

State Supreme Court to hear Amish appeal in March

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A group of Amish men who have been fined and jailed for refusing to hang orange traffic signs on their horse-drawn buggies will argue their religious freedom case before the Kentucky Supreme Court in March.

The court will hear oral arguments from attorneys March 15.

The Graves County men belong to a group of conservative Amish who reject the brightly-colored triangles for religious reasons, saying they are too flashy and their protection on the roadways is guided by God.

William Sharp, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, is representing the Amish men, and the Kentucky Attorney General's office will argue the state's case.

Kentucky lawmakers are also considering a change in the traffic law to allow Amish buggies to use grey reflective tape in place of the triangles.

New York

Oracle rejects $272M SAP award, wants new trial

NEW YORK (AP) -- Database software maker Oracle Corp. has formally rejected a court-ordered award of $272 million from German rival SAP AG, saying it would rather have another trial over SAP's theft of software and customer-support documents.

A jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in the case in November 2010, but a federal judge cut that amount last September. Oracle, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., said then that it would seek a new trial.

In a Monday filing in a federal court in Oakland, Calif., Oracle confirmed its earlier decision and rejected the award.

SAP admitted that a now-closed subsidiary, TomorrowNow, pilfered Oracle's intellectual property. Oracle argued that this helped SAP undercut Oracle by selling similar services for lower prices. SAP said it didn't make much use of the documents and should have to pay only $40 million.

Oracle shares slipped 10 cents to $28.90 in morning trading Tuesday.

California

Alameda sheriff's deputy pleads not guilty to rape

DUBLIN, Calif. (AP) -- An Alameda County Sheriff's deputy has pleaded not guilty to rape charges.

Twenty-seven-year-old David Reta entered the plea on Monday. He is charged with rape and attempted forcible oral copulation.

Reta is accused of attacking a woman in Moraga in September. Police and prosecutors have not released additional details about the alleged rape.

Reta's attorney, Daniel Russo, said his client used to date the woman. He told the Contra Costa Times Reta will be exonerated when all the evidence comes out.

Reta is on paid administrative leave from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, where he served as a jail deputy.

He is out of jail on $125,000 bail. He is scheduled to be back in court on March 2 to set a preliminary hearing date.

Massachusetts

Falmouth woman deals drugs with baby in car

FALMOUTH, Mass. (AP) -- Authorities say a 22-year-old Falmouth woman arrested while allegedly making a drug deal with her 3-month-old baby in her car was keeping her boyfriend's drug business running while he's in jail.

Jessica Walton had a plea of not guilty entered on her behalf at her arraignment Monday in Falmouth District Court. She was allowed to remain free on $1,000 bail she posted after her arrest Friday on charges of conspiracy to violate drug laws and trafficking in cocaine; possession of marijuana, heroin and Suboxone.

Walton was arrested after police received a tip about a drug transaction.

Prosecutors say Walton's boyfriend, Nazario Garate, is a known gang member and drug dealer currently in jail.

The Cape Cod Times reports the baby was unharmed and is in the care of relatives.

California

Bridge worker indicted on federal charges in Colo.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A former California Department of Transportation engineer is facing charges in Colorado that he tried to smuggle military computer equipment to China.

Philip Chaohui He, also known as Philip Hope, is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Denver, Colo. on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say He purchased almost $550,000 worth of memory circuits from a Colorado company and then tried to ship them to China in baby formula containers. The circuits are used in satellite communications.

He was arrested in December.

He worked on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Caltrans spokeswoman Tamie McGowen said he was fired ten days after his arrest for failing to show up to work.

McGowen said his work for Caltrans was completely separate from the charges in the indictment, and he never had access to information that was not publicly available.

Kentucky

Judge approves dropping charges against teacher

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) -- A Hardin County judge has approved a prosecutor's request to dismiss sex abuse charges against a former high school teacher.

Although Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton said he believed the case against former Central Hardin High School teacher Steven Gray should be retried, he noted that the decision to prosecute does not lie with the courts, according to The News-Enterprise.

Gray was charged with two counts of sex abuse in December 2010 after anonymous allegations were made. He denied the accusations.

When the case went to trial, the jury couldn't reach a unanimous decision and a mistrial was declared.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Heather Paynter said in her request that she didn't think the evidence could be presented in a different way to produce a different outcome.

Published: Wed, Feb 8, 2012