18-year-old pleaded guilty to terrorism

A New York high school student secretly pleaded guilty to federal charges accusing him of trying to join an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Yemen so he could die fighting jihad, authorities said Wednesday.

In January, Justin Kaliebe told an undercover operative pretending to be a confidant, “There is no way out for me. . . . The only way out is martyrdom,” according to court papers.

A record of the American citizen’s computer activity suggested he was influenced by the lectures of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant leader who was killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the papers said.

Counterterrorism agents intercepted the 18-year-old on Jan. 21 as he tried to board a flight to Oman at John F. Kennedy International Airport on his way to Yemen.

Kaliebe pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization on Feb. 8.

At Kaliebe’s first appearance in open court Wednesday, a Long Island judge ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before a sentencing scheduled for Sept. 27.

— Associated Press

State executes 500th prisoner since 1982

Texas marked a solemn moment in criminal justice Wednesday evening, executing its 500th inmate since it resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was also the first woman executed in the U.S. in nearly three years.

McCarthy, 52, was executed for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth.

Texas has carried out nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,300 executions in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. The state’s standing stems from its size as the nation’s second-most-populous state as well as its tradition of tough justice for killers.

— Associated Press

Man claimed to have Romney tax returns

A Tennessee man was charged Wednesday in a scheme involving former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s income tax returns during the 2012 campaign.

The U.S. Justice Department said a federal grand jury in Nashville indicted Michael Mancil Brown, 34, of Franklin, and charged him with six counts of wire fraud and six counts of extortion.

Brown is accused of having an anonymous letter delivered to the PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP accounting firm in Franklin last August demanding that
$1 million in digital currency be deposited in a Bitcoin account to keep some of Romney’s income tax returns from being released. The Justice Department said Brown falsely claimed that he had gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers internal computer network and had stolen tax documents for Romney and his wife, Ann Romney, for tax years before 2010.

Suspected mine is detonated on Jersey Shore: A military explosives team detonated a suspected mine Wednesday that a diver had discovered partly buried in sand in the Atlantic Ocean at Bay Head, N.J. Police evacuated about 15 homes within a quarter-mile radius before the operation. The device was discovered Tuesday night, and an ordnance disposal team assigned to a naval station in Colts Neck decided to detonate it in place at high tide the next day. The device was believed to be a moored contact mine from either World War I or World War II and could have been exposed by Hurricane Sandy last year, base officials said.

‘Sextortionist’ sentenced: A self-confessed “sextortionist” from Brazil, Ind., was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Wednesday for coercing more than a dozen teenagers into performing sex acts online. Prosecutors allege that Richard Finkbiner, 40, targeted hundreds of minors across the country, some as young as 12. He agreed in January to plead guilty to child exploitation and other charges. He also was ordered to pay $70,000.

Divers remove timber believed to be from ship Griffin: Scientists and divers who combed the bottom of Lake Michigan last week for a 17th-century shipwreck have retrieved a wooden beam that could belong to the long-lost Griffin. Expedition project manager Ken Vrana told the Associated Press that the team removed the timber Saturday. The Griffin was commanded by the French explorer La Salle. It disappeared in 1679 near the entrance of Green Bay.