NATION IN BRIEF

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Military Duo Charged With Smuggling Ecstasy

NEW YORK -- A military pilot and an enlisted man pleaded guilty Friday to charges that they returned from an overseas mission with 300,000 ecstasy pills, worth millions of dollars.

Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 36, and Master Sgt. John Fong, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in federal court, admitting their roles in the April 2005 flight for the Air National Guard. Both face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced Aug. 25.

Rodriguez, the pilot, and Fong, a loadmaster, were on a mission to deliver supplies to the Republic of Georgia. On the return flight, they stopped in Germany to load the pills aboard their C-5A Galaxy cargo plane.

After the flight arrived, federal agents watched Fong load bags and boxes into a car at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y. They asked to inspect the cargo and found 28 bags of pills, authorities said.

Authorities have said each pill could have been sold on the street for $9 to $40, meaning the seized drugs were worth $2.9 million to $11.6 million.

4 Charged in Bombing Of Ski Resort in 1998

DENVER -- Four alleged environmental extremists were indicted in a 1998 firebombing at a Vail ski resort that caused $12 million in damage.

Named in the indictment are Chelsea Gerlach, 29, of Portland, Ore; Stanislas Meyerhoff, 28, of Charlottesville; Josephine Sunshine Overaker, 31; and Rebecca J. Rubin, 33. Gerlach and Meyerhoff are in custody in Oregon. Overaker and Rubin are being sought.

All four were named in an earlier indictment in Oregon charging them and several others with conspiracy in similar sabotage attacks in Oregon, California and Wyoming.

The Vail blaze left a mountain lodge, two restaurants and a few other buildings, and ski lifts in smoldering ruins. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility and said it targeted Vail because it was expanding into potential habitat of the lynx, an endangered cat. U.S. attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner would not say how the defendants were connected to the crime.

William C. Rodgers, who was identified by an FBI agent as a leader of the Vail arson but was never charged, committed suicide recently in an Arizona jail after he was indicted in the other Western attacks, authorities said.

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