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FBI denies paying thousands to van der Sloot in sting operation

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

ALABAMA

FBI denies reports of payment to van der Sloot

The FBI denied published reports Wednesday that it had paid thousands of dollars in a sting operation to Joran van der Sloot, a suspect in Natalee Holloway's disappearance, and put off arresting him to help build a murder case.

The New York Post and the Associated Press reported Wednesday that van der Sloot reached out to someone close to Holloway's mother about six weeks ago and requested $250,000 in exchange for disclosing the location of the Alabama teenager's body on the island of Aruba. They also reported that the FBI paid van der Sloot $15,000 in the sting, money that he then used to head from Aruba to Peru, where authorities suspect him of killing a young woman.

U.S. officials confirmed that they had been looking into "allegations of criminal conduct" against van der Sloot since April, but they said any money given to the Dutchman came from private funds. They added that the investigation was "not sufficiently developed to bring charges prior to the time van der Sloot left Aruba."

Van der Sloot is now held in a Peruvian jail in connection with the May 30 killing of 21-year-old business student Stephany Flores.

Flores's death "is not due to any fault on the part of the FBI or the U.S. Attorney's Office, where agents and prosecutors were working as hard as possible to bring the case to fruition when they learned of the murder," FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a joint statement.

"A case based on events outside of the United States is a complex matter, and work was proceeding with all deliberate speed to prepare the evidence, the charges and the necessary procedures to obtain custody of van der Sloot."

Late Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III for an explanation of "exactly what happened in this case."

-- From staff and wire reports

WISCONSIN

Man accused in 2 killings adds guilty pleas to 2 more

An ailing Kentucky con man pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering a teenage couple in Wisconsin nearly 30 years ago and agreed to plead guilty to two Ohio killings.

Edward W. Edwards, 76, unexpectedly entered the guilty pleas during a hearing in Jefferson, Wis. He will be sentenced to life in prison for each murder.

Edwards did not address the friends and family members of 1980 Wisconsin victims Tim Hack and Kelly Drew who gathered in the courtroom.

Edwards will be transported to Summit County, Ohio, where he is expected to plead guilty Friday to aggravated murder in the 1977 deaths of Bill Lavaco, 21, and Judith Straub, 18.

-- Associated Press

Fired over an untimely phone call: A man who beat out thousands of job applicants for work as a Boston bus driver has been fired after less than a week for allegedly violating a ban on cellphone use. MBTA General Manager Richard Davey said Wednesday the new driver was seen using a cellphone at a training site. The agency policy requires the immediate firing of any driver caught using a cellphone while on duty. The man was hired by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority through a 27,000-person job lottery conducted to fill 34 vacancies.

Jail time for Calif. hazing death: Two former California Polytechnic State University students were sentenced for the fatal hazing of an 18-year-old fraternity pledge whose blood alcohol content was between 0.39 and 0.44 percent -- equivalent to surgical anesthesia. Zacary Ellis, 23, must serve 120 days in county jail, and Haithem Ibrahim, 21, must serve 45 days.

-- Associated Press


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