Stolen Motherwell painting is returned

A painting by the modernist master Robert Motherwell that disappeared from a New York warehouse in 1978 and was presumed stolen has been returned after 40 years, federal law enforcement officials announced.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman unveiled the 1967 painting, “Untitled,” at a Manhattan news conference on Thursday where he was joined by FBI officials who helped return the artwork to the foundation that owns the bulk of Motherwell’s artworks.

The 69-by-92 inch painting was one of several dozen that went missing in 1978 from a warehouse where they were being stored.

Authorities said the painting was found last year in a garage in Upstate New York by the son of a man who worked for the moving and storage company that Motherwell had hired.

The New York Times reports that the man was helping his mother sort through some belongings when he noticed the artist’s name on the back of the orange, crimson, blue and black canvas.

The man searched the Internet for information about Motherwell and called the Dedalus Foundation, which Motherwell set up in 1981 to educate the public about for modern art education.

The foundation contacted the FBI, which determined that the man’s father had worked at the moving company at the time the artwork disappeared.

The man who worked for the moving company died in the 1990s. Authorities don’t believe the son, whom they did not identify, knew that the painting was stolen.

— Associated Press

Charges for protesters, journalists ruled out

Baton Rouge prosecutors have ruled out criminal charges against several people who are suing over their arrests at protests after a deadly police shooting in Louisiana’s capital two years ago.

The East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney’s office notified plaintiffs’ attorneys Wednesday that it won’t prosecute five protesters and two journalists who were arrested on misdemeanor charges, according to a court filing. They were among nearly 200 people arrested at protests after a white police officer shot and killed a 37-year-old black man, Alton Sterling, outside a convenience store on July 5, 2016.

In January, lawyers for the Louisiana State Police asked a federal judge to dismiss or suspend the plaintiffs’ civil claims of free-speech violations, excessive force and wrongful arrest because they still faced possible criminal charges.

But the court denied that request Thursday, allowing the case to proceed. A trial date for the lawsuit hasn’t been set yet.

Fifteen people are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the city of Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish and its elected sheriff, the state police and others.

— Associated Press

Eight MS-13 gang members indicted

Authorities say eight MS-13 members in the U.S. illegally have been indicted on charges tied to alleged gang activities including racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder and assault.

U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox announced the charges at a news conference Friday in Dallas.

Cox says seven suspects, mostly from El Salvador, are in custody. Janet Pearre, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas, declined to comment on the status of the eighth.

— Associated Press

Two purported Manson sons out of estate fight

A Los Angeles judge has eliminated two purported sons of Charles Manson from the battle over his estate.

Judge Clifford Klein on Friday narrowed the case down to a man who says he’s the cult leader’s grandson and a memorabilia collector who was pen pals with Manson.

The fight over the estate has evolved since Manson died in November at 83. He was serving a life sentence for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others.

Clifford dismissed the cases of Matthew Lentz, a musician who says he was fathered by Manson at a 1967 orgy, and Michael Brunner, whose mother was a member of Manson’s cult. Lentz had asked for more time to find a lawyer, but Clifford said he blew several deadlines.

— Associated Press

Student pleads guilty to shooting U.S. diplomat: A U.S. citizen studying in Mexico who tried to kill a U.S. diplomat there will spend at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Christopher Ashcraft, vice consul at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, was leaving a gym on a Friday evening in January 2017 when Zia Zafar approached his car from a garage ramp and fired one shot inside. Zafar did not know Ashcraft but had figured out that he worked at the consulate, according to prosecutors. The 33-year-old from Chino Hills, Calif., was in Mexico on a student visa. Sentencing is set for Nov. 7.

— Rachel Weiner