Ex-Official Pleads Not Guilty

MEMPHIS -- Former state senator John Ford, who resigned last month after the FBI said he was taped taking payoffs and threatening witnesses, pleaded not guilty to public corruption charges Wednesday and called government agents liars.

"They're the ones who are corrupt. They're the villains," Ford said after entering a plea to bribery and corruption charges before a federal magistrate.

Ford, the brother of former U.S. representative Harold Ford Sr. and the uncle of Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), said he and several other state lawmakers are victims of a corrupt undercover sting by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

"These are accusations that have been brought on by people in government who are corrupt -- people in government who have lied about everything," Ford said. "They're the ones who spent taxpayers' money doing all this stuff."

Two others charged with taking payoffs to influence legislation for a fake company called E-Cycle Management also were in court -- state Sen. Kathryn Bowers, a fellow Democrat, and Barry Myers, a Memphis resident described as a "bag man" in federal indictments. Both also pleaded not guilty.

* NEW YORK -- The body of a college student who disappeared in April during a visit to New York City was found in the Hudson River. Authorities said they did not yet know whether his death was accidental or a homicide. Patrick M. Welsh, 22, was last seen April 15 when he took a train from Harrisburg, Pa., to New York, after telling his family he planned to visit friends at Columbia University. He used his cell phone the night he arrived but was never heard from again. Welsh, of Sykesville, Md., attended York College in Pennsylvania.

* SURF CITY, N.J. -- A teenage surfer was bitten in an apparent shark attack off the New Jersey coast, and experts believe a small great white may be responsible. It would be the first recorded shark attack in the state's waters in 30 years. Ryan Horton, 17, said he never saw what bit him when he felt a stabbing pain in his ankle Sunday afternoon.

* PHILADELPHIA, Miss. -- Reputed Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, 80, will stand trial as scheduled next week in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers despite injuries that are causing him discomfort, Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon ruled.

* FARGO, N.D. -- Ten weeks after he was shot and left for dead in the worst school shooting since Columbine, Jeffrey May walked out of the hospital saying he looked forward to going back to playing sports Red Lake High School in northern Minnesota.

* SEATTLE -- The owner of a run-down home where Jimi Hendrix once lived plans to move it to a Seattle suburb, across from the cemetery where the rock legend is buried. Owner Pete Sikov has until Friday to provide completed plans for moving the house; otherwise, Seattle officials say, they will demolish it. The house was moved a few blocks three years ago to make way for a housing development.

-- From News Services