National Roundup

Man charged with running Ponzi scheme

BOSTON (AP) — An Uxbridge man who told investors he ran a divinely-inspired investment program has been charged by the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office with running a Ponzi scheme.
Secretary of State William Galvin said in a complaint filed Tuesday that Charles Erickson defrauded at least 25 investors out of about $3.5 million.
Authorities say about a third of those recruited for the program attended the same church as Erickson, who said the Holy Spirit had given him a proprietary day-trading system for a volatile type of futures contract. He allegedly guaranteed returns of 96 percent over two years.
Galvin said Erickson’s system didn’t work and he was paying monthly returns using capital reserves deposited by later investors.

Cops: Drunk man ran fake DUI checkpoint

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) — Police say a man who set up a drunken-driving checkpoint complete with road flares while pretending to be a Pennsylvania state trooper was drunk.
Troopers say 19-year-old Logan Shaulis, of Somerset, parked his vehicle diagonally across state Route 601 and set up road flares at about 4 a.m. Saturday.
A motorist who stopped says Shaulis claimed he was a trooper and demanded to see a driver’s license, registration and insurance papers.
When real troopers arrived, police say Shaulis tried to hand a BB pistol to the car’s passenger and said, “I can’t get caught with this.”
He faces charges including drunken driving, impersonating a public servant and unlawful restraint. He remained jailed Tuesday. Online court records don’t list an attorney for him.
A preliminary hearing is set for June 9.

Sex ed teacher takes students to adult shop

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A sex education teacher has drawn the ire of parents after taking students on a field trip to an adult novelty store in Minneapolis.
Gaia Democratic School director Starri Hedges took about a dozen middle- and high-school students to the Smitten Kitten last week. Hedges told the Star Tribune that she wanted to provide a safe environment for students to learn about human sexual behavior.
Besides offering adult books, videos, toys and other products, the store also has educational workshops, which the students attended.
“What I saw happening on our trip, I thought it was beautiful because kids could talk to these sex educators without any shame, without any fear,” Hedges said. Some of her students bought condoms, she said.
The small K-12 school has a motto that promises academic freedom, youth empowerment and democratic education. Parents say it has about 25 students. Tax records show the school, housed in a Unitarian church, has an annual budget of about $100,000.
Parent Lynn Floyd’s 11- and 13-year-old daughters were on the field trip. Floyd says the trip was “a major breach of trust” and has withdrawn his children from the school. Floyd said he is most troubled that parents were never notified before the trip.
“I just struggled to think that I wasn’t involved in that,” he said.
Hedges said that she “unfortunately didn’t communicate well enough with parents ahead of time” about the trip. Pornographic items were off limits to the children, Hedges said, but sex toys and other products were visible.
Minnesota Department of Education spokesman Josh Collins said the state has no authority over the school because it is private. “I don’t think anybody would think that going to the Smitten Kitten is a great idea,” he said.
It is not clear whether the field trip broke any laws. A city ordinance said those younger than 18 should not be exposed to “sexually provocative written, photographic, printed, sound, or published materials deemed harmful to minors.”
Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Hedges said she probably would not take another class to the store.
“It was certainly the first time we have taken that kind of field trip and it will probably be our last, which I feel bad (about) because the kids had so much fun,” Hedges said.

Man dies after struggle with police officers

LOUISA, Ky. (AP) — A man died after a confrontation with officers who used a stun gun on him at a police department in eastern Kentucky, state police said.
Billy J. Collins, 56, became combative at the Louisa Police Department after his arrest Friday and struck Sgt. Steven Wilburn multiple times before fleeing into a foyer, where he barricaded himself, according to a Kentucky State Police statement.
Collins was hit twice with a stun gun but continued to be combative, the statement said. Officers had a physical confrontation with him that included “strikes with closed empty hands” and with agency-issued batons before bringing him under control, police said.
Collins was then restrained and put in a sitting position when he began showing signs of a medical emergency, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Results of an autopsy weren’t released, but police said they are reviewing Collins’ prior medical issues as part of their investigation. The preliminary investigation has found no criminal activity on the part of officers, police said.
Louisa Police Chief Greg A. Fugitt said the department is cooperating fully with the state police investigation. He referred other questions about the case to Kentucky State Police.

Court sides with EPA on air pollution limits

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court says the Environmental Protection Agency complied with the law in deciding which areas of the country failed to meet federal limits on smog-forming pollution.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday rejected challenges from states, industry and environmental groups that claimed the agency was being either too strict or too lenient in determining which areas satisfied federal ozone restrictions.
States including Mississippi, Indiana and Texas had challenged the EPA’s finding that certain areas within their borders were violating the standard. A finding of noncompliance means states have to spend money to reduce ozone levels.
The Obama administration recently proposed even stricter emission limits on ozone than the standard that President George W. Bush put in place in 2008.