National Roundup

New Jersey
Man quits council in fallout from book of rants

RIVER EDGE, N.J. (AP) - An Assembly candidate who dropped out of the race after a book of rants he wrote about gays, breast-feeding moms and others surfaced has resigned from his council seat.

Republican Anthony Cappola resigned from the council Friday, River Edge Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo told The Record.

Cappola acknowledged last week that he wrote the book titled "Outrageous!" 12 years ago but said he wasn't the same person anymore.

The mayor said that he worked well with Cappola and that Cappola had contributed as a council member, even using his skills as a disc jockey to help at public events.

Republicans denounced Cappola's language in the book that included saying gay people should keep their "sexual preferences" ''behind doors like normal people do."

Cappola took aim at numerous groups in the 223-page book, which contained many spelling and grammatical errors.

In one section he stereotypes Asians as bad drivers. In another, he tells breast-feeding moms to "put it back wear in came from!!!"

In a statement last week, Cappola said he was sorry if he offended anyone and he took responsibility for the book.

The Assembly is at the top of the ticket this November, and Republicans hope to challenge Democrats for the majority in the chamber. Democrats now control it 48-32.

The seat in the northern New Jersey district that Cappola had been running for was considered one of a handful of competitive races in the November election.

New York
Ex-UN General Assembly head held for bribery

NEW YORK (AP) - Former United Nations General Assembly President John Ashe accepted more than $500,000 in bribes from a Chinese real estate mogul and other businesspeople in exchange for help obtaining lucrative investments and government contracts, according to federal court documents unsealed Tuesday.

In exchange for the money, federal prosecutors say, Ashe used his position as Permanent Resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to introduce a U.N. document in support of a real estate project being developed by Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng. The scheme unfolded over the course of nearly three years, from 2011 through 2014, and included his tenure as General Assembly head, prosecutors said.

Ng and his assistant, also named in the indictment, were already being held by federal authorities, accused of lying about plans for $4.5 million in cash brought into the U.S. over several years aboard private jets. It wasn't immediately clear if prosecutors believe any of the money was used in the Antigua bribery scheme. According to court documents, Ashe used his position to push the U.N. to promote a conference center in Macau being developed by Ng. The UN Macau Conference Center was to be Ng's legacy and would function as a sort of satellite operation for the world body, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say some of the bribe money was used to pay for Ashe's family vacation and to construct a basketball court at his home in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He opened two bank accounts to receive the funds and then underreported his income by more than $1.2 million, officials said. The businesspeople flew Ashe, his wife and their two children first-class to New Orleans and put the family up in an $850-a-night hotel room.

Ashe was arrested Tuesday and is being held, and his legal representation wasn't clear. No one answered a phone call to the mission for Antigua; he is no longer listed in the U.N. directory. A message left with a representative for the General Assembly wasn't immediately returned.

In all, six people, including another diplomat, Francis Lorenzo from the Dominican Republic, were ensnared in the probe. A message was left at Lorenzo's mission.

The other two were involved with Ng, prosecutors said. They were identified as Sheri Yan and Heidi Park, both naturalized U.S. citizens who reside in China and helped facilitate the scheme, prosecutors said.

Ohio
Plea hearing set for suspect in $8.7 million theft

CINCINNATI (AP) - A change-of-plea hearing is scheduled Oct. 23 for an accountant who became a regular on the Appalachian Trail in the six years after he fled accusations that he embezzled $8.7 million.

James Hammes, 53, of Lexington, Kentucky, will appear before U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott. The trial had been scheduled to begin Tuesday in Cincinnati, but court documents first obtained by The Associated Press show a plea deal was reached.

No details have been released about the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval. Hammes had earlier pleaded not guilty on wire fraud and money laundering charges from 2009. Hammes' attorney hasn't responded to messages for comment.

The FBI arrested Hammes May 16 in Damascus, Virginia, during the annual "Trail Days" festival. People there say he was known as an outgoing, bushy-bearded hiker called "Bismarck" who had become a regular on the popular Georgia-to-Maine hiking trail.

The FBI said Hammes disappeared soon after being confronted in February 2009 about money missing from the beverage bottler he worked for. Authorities haven't said what they think happened to the money or commented on his whereabouts the last six years.

Trail guidebook writer David Miller said Bismarck had a surprisingly high visibility, showing up in photos in hikers' journals and on social media.

Hammes, a licensed pilot, had claimed a successful investment in a software company provided extra money for scuba diving trips to the Caribbean in the years before his indictment, according to former in-laws who were interviewed for an episode of the CNBC series "American Greed." A fellow hiker has been credited with recognizing Bismarck from the show, leading to Hammes' eventual arrest.

Florida
Police: Man rapes, tortures pregnant woman

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Police in Daytona Beach have arrested a convicted sex offender after a homeless pregnant woman was tied up and tortured.

Fifty-two-year-old John Lytus remained in the Volusia County Jail on Tuesday after his arrest last week on charges that include sexual battery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Lytus was convicted of first-degree rape in Rockland, New York, in 1982.

An arrest affidavit says the incident happened in a recreational vehicle in September after Lytus picked up the woman. The woman told investigators Lytus threatened to kill her if she didn't do what he told her. She says she was hog-tied and attacked for about 12 hours.

Published: Wed, Oct 07, 2015

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