Two Arrested for Posing

As Red Cross Workers

LOS ANGELES -- Two people accused of posing as American Red Cross volunteers and taking in as much as $2,000 have been charged in the first federal case involving an alleged Hurricane Katrina relief scam, prosecutors said.

Federal law bars anyone from impersonating a Red Cross worker. A conviction can lead to five years in prison.

Authorities said Tino Lee, 44, of Burbank and Gina Liz Nicholas, 19, of Glendale set up a table with a collection box outside a Best Buy store in Burbank and displayed fliers that read: "Help Now. American Red Cross Relief For Hurricane Katrina." They had collected as much as $2,000 in cash, as well as a check for $200, before their arrest Thursday night, authorities said. Police took them into custody after determining they lacked the paperwork to prove they represented the relief group. A 14-year-old girl also received a citation to appear in Juvenile Court.

City Employees Found

Taking Donated Items

KENNER, La. -- Officials are responding to complaints that city workers helped themselves to cases of Gatorade, new clothes and other donated items that were intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Philip Ramon, chief of staff to Kenner Mayor Philip L. Capitano, said the city has removed the official who had presided over the distribution.

City officials planned to investigate the alleged pilfering, but Ramon said many employees were also hurricane victims. "If they can get some supplies they need, then God bless them," he said.

Thousands of residents of the city a few miles west of New Orleans have been lining up each day at a furniture store parking lot to get clothing, food, household items and other donated supplies.

Each evening, after the site closed, city employees browsed the pallets and took supplies, said Robert Shumate, a trucker from Union City, Tenn., who dropped off a load of ice last week and stayed to help distribute the goods. "I saw it every day," he said. "It's like community property over there."

Kenner police officer Mark McCormick said National Guard soldiers told him that the city official in charge of the distribution and other city employees had taken new clothing from Ryder trucks and handed it out among themselves. National Guard Capt. John Cannon said he had no information about the complaints.

* NEW YORK -- A $6 million federal grant will create a radio frequency that connects city police, fire and emergency officials with each other and with suburban counties in New York and New Jersey, city officials said. The Sept. 11 commission found major flaws in the city's emergency response to the 2001 terrorist attacks, including the failure of police and fire officials to communicate effectively.

-- From News Services