Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ex-Interior Aide Pleads Guilty to Rigging Bids

A second official from the Interior Department program that collects oil and gas royalties from private companies drilling on federal sites pleaded guilty yesterday in Las Vegas to helping design and award contracts that benefited him after retirement.

Milton K. Dial, 60, of Las Vegas, was the deputy associate director of Minerals Revenue Management, earning $142,500 a year, when he arranged a contract for a former colleague. The colleague then hired Dial within six months of his retirement, court records show. Dial's role violated restrictions on former employees of the executive branch.

Dial went to work for a company created in Texas by Interior retiree Jimmy W. Mayberry. Mayberry pleaded guilty in July to conflict of interest in the scheme, which awarded roughly $1.4 million to his firm for technical advice to Interior's mineral management program, according to the Justice Department. Mayberry, 65, of Strawn, Tex., created a job for himself by designing the specifics of a contract that he went on to win, according to his plea.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on their felony convictions later this year.

Six Are Indicted in N.J. In Schoolyard Killings

NEWARK -- Three men and three teenagers were indicted Monday on murder and other charges in the execution-style slayings that shocked New Jersey's largest city more than a year ago.

All six suspects are reported to have links to the MS-13 street gang. Two were 15 years old at the time of the killings. The grand jury charged them with murder, attempted murder, robbery and weapons offenses related to the Aug. 4, 2007, killings of college students Iofemi Hightower, Terrance Aeriel and Dashon Harvey behind a Newark school.

Two suspects are also charged with sexually assaulting a fourth victim who survived.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow said robbery and gang involvement were elements of the case, but she declined to say what police suspect to be the primary motive.

Cellphone at Issue in Rail Crash

LOS ANGELES -- Federal rail investigators said they would go to court to get an engineer's cellphone records to determine whether he was text-messaging when his commuter train slammed head-on into a freight locomotive, killing 26 people.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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