National Roundup

Civil War diary reported stolen from library

GROTON, Conn. (AP) - Police say a Civil War diary has been reported stolen from a Connecticut library.

The Day of New London reports that the diary of Armenius Bill might have been missing from the Bill Memorial Library in Groton since mid-April, but it was reported stolen last week.

It was not on display. Instead, it was kept in the director's office and only available for viewing upon request.

The diary is dark brown, about 8 by 12 inches in size and is believed to feature a U.S. flag and battle flag on its cover.

The diary is a heavily annotated soldier's account of the war, complete with contemporary news clippings.

Police say the diary hasn't been recently appraised, but it holds significant historical and monetary value.

Prosecutors: Congressman led 'white-collar crime spree'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A veteran congressman on trial in a racketeering case ran a "white-collar crime spree" that stretched from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., a prosecutor told jurors Monday.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, an 11-term Democrat from Philadelphia, is accused of taking an illegal $1 million campaign loan from a friend to fund a failed 2007 mayoral bid and using a federal grant to repay most of it.

Justice Department lawyer Jonathan Kravis said in his closing argument that Fattah also used nonprofit funds to enrich his family and friends.

Defense lawyers say the plots were hatched by two political consultants who have pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Fattah.

Fattah lost his bid for re-election in the April Democratic primary. His trial has been underway for about a month.

"These conspirators engaged in what can only be described as a white-collar crime spree, from Philadelphia all the way to Washington, D.C.," Kravis told jurors. "There were so many schemes in this case we needed numbers to keep track of them."

The $1 million loan for the mayoral campaign came from Albert Lord, the former CEO for Sallie Mae. Fattah had been the early favorite for the race, but his plan to fund the race with help from a few wealthy donors hit a snag over new campaign finance limits that Fattah unsuccessfully fought to overturn.

So he instead funneled the loan from Lord through his political consultant, investigators said. Some $200,000 was used on primary day alone to try to get out the vote. Fattah nonetheless finished fourth.

When Lord called in the loan, Fattah's consultant returned $400,000 that was never spent. He then took $600,000 in NASA grant money awarded for math and science programs to an education nonprofit he controlled and routed it through his consultant to pay the balance, Kravis told jurors.

The campaign loan was just one of several alleged schemes prosecutors outlined during the trial.

South Carolina
Prosecutors oppose bench trial for church shooting suspect

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Prosecutors have officially opposed a request by the man accused in the shooting deaths of nine parishioners at a South Carolina church that a judge, not a jury, decide his fate.

In court documents filed Monday, attorneys for the federal government point out that their consent is needed before a defendant can waive a jury trial.

Last week, attorneys for Dylann Roof acknowledged prosecutors had already said they wouldn't consent to a bench trial but made their request anyway.

The 22-year-old Roof faces federal charges including hate crimes in connection to the June 17 shootings during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 7.

Roof faces nine counts of murder in a state trial set to begin in January.

New York
Wife who fatally poisoned husband dies in prison

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A woman convicted of fatally poisoning her husband with antifreeze and trying to kill her daughter and frame her for the crime has died in prison.

Stacey Castor, 48, died Saturday morning while serving 51 years to life at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County, the Onondaga County district attorney's office said. An autopsy will be conducted.

Castor was convicted in 2009 of killing her husband David Castor and trying to kill her daughter Ashley Wallace as part of a plot to pin the murder on her. Stacey Castor was also convicted of filing a fake will to inherit her second husband's estate and was suspected of fatally poisoning her first husband in 2000.

The case was featured on an episode of "Forensic Files."

David Castor's death at 48 in August 2005 was initially considered a suicide, but investigators later determined he didn't knowingly drink ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in antifreeze.

Stacey Castor was charged in September 2007, just days after investigators in neighboring Cayuga County exhumed the body of Michael Wallace, her first husband and the father of her two children. His cause of death had originally been ruled a heart attack, but after the exhumation, authorities ruled the 2000 death a homicide caused by ingesting ethylene glycol.

Stacey Castor wasn't charged in Wallace's killing, but prosecutors presented evidence during trial that she was involved as they built their case against her. Prosecutors said she killed her husbands to collect on their life insurance policies and estates.

Prosecutors said Stacey Castor poisoned David Castor in September 2007 by using a kitchen baster to slip him the antifreeze, then staged the scene to make it appear he was depressed, had gotten drunk and killed himself by downing the toxic liquid.

When authorities were closing in on her, prosecutors said, Castor decided to kill her daughter Ashley Wallace and frame her for killing both husbands. She knocked Wallace out with sleeping pills, then used a teaspoon to feed her vodka and prescription pills over a 17-hour window, prosecutors said.

Castor then wrote a 750-word suicide note on her computer that claimed to be from her daughter confessing to killing the men, prosecutors said.

In the suicide note, which Wallace denied writing, the word antifreeze is written as "anti-free" in four places. An investigator testified earlier that Castor said "anti-free" during an interview. Castor acknowledged saying "anti-free" but said she had cut herself off mid-word because she meant to say something else.

Investigators also determined that the note was written while Castor was at home and her daughter was at school, prosecutors said.

Castor maintained her innocence and appealed her case for years.

Published: Tue, Jun 14, 2016