Lawmakers' Relatives Plead Not Guilty to Fraud

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lawmakers' Relatives Plead Not Guilty to Fraud

NEW ORLEANS -- A sister, brother and niece of indicted Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) pleaded not guilty Friday to federal fraud charges accusing them of pocketing grant money earmarked for charitable and educational programs.

New Orleans tax assessor Betty Jefferson, her brother Mose Jefferson and her daughter Angela Coleman were arraigned on charges they stole more than $600,000.

Another relative, Brenda Jefferson, pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping conceal the alleged scheme in the charity case and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

William Jefferson is facing separate corruption charges over an alleged international bribery scheme. A trial date has been set for December in U.S. District Court in Virginia.

Teenagers Plotted to Get Pregnant

GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- A pact made by a group of teens to get pregnant and raise their babies together is at least partly behind a sudden spike in pregnancies at Gloucester High School, school officials said. Seventeen girls at the school are currently pregnant; the normal average is about four a year. Principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine that students were coming to the school clinic multiple times to get pregnancy tests and that they "seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were."

Presbyterian Church Challenged

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Now that gays can legally marry in California, a retired Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister is again challenging her denomination's position on same-sex marriage by officiating at the wedding of two women. The Rev. Jane Spahr faced misconduct charges for performing weddings in 2004 and 2005. The highest court of the Presbyterian Church concluded that she did not violate the part of the church's constitution that defines marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman because the ceremonies she performed were not marriages.

-- From News Services

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