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National Briefing

Virginia: Ex-lawmaker gets 13 years for bribes / Wyoming: Drive to retract cellphone ban fails / Colorado: 'Balloon boy' Dad pleads guilty

November 14, 2009


Ex-Rep. Jefferson gets 13 years

Former Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), who was caught with $90,000 in marked currency stuffed in his freezer, was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The 62-year-old was convicted of using his office to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and seek millions more, mainly by promoting business deals in Africa. Prosecutors said that he was involved in 11 bribery schemes from August 2000 to August 2005 and that he and his family stood to gain more than half a billion dollars.


Drive fails to kill cellphone ban

Organizers for the "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign collected thousands of signatures on a petition to overturn the Cheyenne City Council's decision this fall to outlaw drivers' use of hand-held cellphones. But city officials determined this week that at least 1,400 of the 3,500 collected signatures were invalid. The group needed at least 2,800 valid signatures to force city leaders to overturn the ordinance or put it to a public vote.


Dad pleads guilty in balloon hoax

A man who last month claimed his 6-year-old son had floated away in a helium balloon pleaded guilty to avoid the possible deportation of his wife, a Japanese citizen.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to one felony charge of attempting to influence a public official. Mayumi Heene is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report. Richard Heene's attorney said that the Heenes would be sentenced to probation, although it's possible that Richard Heene may serve 90 days in jail and his wife 60 days.

-- times staff and wire reports

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