3 senators suspended over criminal cases

The Democratically controlled State Senate has voted to suspend three Democrats who face charges or have been convicted in separate criminal cases, after the latest lawmaker to be hauled into court refused to step down.

Friday’s 28 to 1 vote in the 40-member chamber came amid one of the most severe ethical crises in modern times for the Legislature in the nation’s most populous state.

The resolution prevents Sens. Ron Calderon, Leland Yee and Rod Wright from exercising any power of office until the criminal cases against them have been resolved. Even so, they will continue receiving their $95,291 annual salaries.

Yee was indicted this week on federal charges that included accepting bribes and coordinating an international gun-running operation.

Wright was convicted of voter fraud and perjury and faces sentencing in May. Calderon faces federal charges for allegedly accepting $100,000 in bribes for friends and family in exchange for pushing certain bills.

— Associated Press

Judge loosens curbs on anti-fracking activist: A northeastern Pennsylvania judge has loosened restrictions on an anti-fracking activist who had been barred from stepping foot on more than 300 square miles of land owned or leased by a natural gas driller. Vera Scroggins, 63, who is known for leading bus tours of the Marcellus Shale gas field and posting videos of drilling operations online, had argued that the order prevented her from traveling to her favorite grocery store, eye doctor, hospital, restaurants and other places that leased land to Cabot Oil & Gas. Susquehanna Judge Kenneth Seamans ruled Thursday that Scroggins must continue to stay away from a dozen properties owned by Cabot as well as from active drilling sites, gas wells in production and access roads.

Man sentenced in hazing death: A former Florida A&M band member has become the first person to be sentenced to jail time for his role in the hazing death of a drum major. Jessie Baskin was sentenced Friday to 51 weeks in the county jail, five years of probation and 300 hours of community service for participating in the beating death of Robert Champion, 26, in November 2011.

FBI’s most-wanted man surrenders: Only days after being added to the list of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives,” a suspect sought in the execution-style killings of his 19-year-old girlfriend and her toddler son in Central Islip, N.Y., has returned to the United States from Nicaragua to face murder charges, authorities said Friday. Juan Elias Garcia, 21, a reputed member of the international gang known as MS-13, was taken into custody Thursday near the U.S. Embassy in Managua., according to Nicaraguan police. He was immediately turned over to the FBI.

— From news services