National Roundup

Vermont: Middle school bans breast  cancer bracelets
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont school board is backing a decision by a middle school principal who banned students from wearing breast cancer awareness bracelets that carry the message “I love boobies.”

But a parent of one of the students prevented from wearing the bracelets says she might challenge the decision in court.

Earlier this month Brattleboro Area Middle School Principal Ingrid Chrisco banned the bracelets because some students and staff were offended by the message. At a meeting Monday, Chrisco said she supported breast cancer awareness and promised to host a series of appropriate events.

The Brattleboro Reformer says parent Deb Jutras plans to contact the American Civil Liberties Union and ask about challenging the ban in court.

Missouri: Carthage couple sentenced in child endangerment
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri couple will spend five years in prison for leaving their autistic son in a locked, filthy room.

Thirty-eight-year-old Brian W. Bertalotto and 33-year-old Mirrissa Bertalotto of Carthage were sentenced Monday for first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Court records say the couple’s 4-year-old autistic son was kept in a locked room filled with excrement.

The Joplin Globe reports that the state took the 4-year-old and his 7-year-old brother into protective custody in September 2009 after the couple’s home was inspected.

California: Forced meds ordered for mom in infant drowning
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A judge has signed an order allowing a state hospital to forcibly medicate a mentally ill mother ruled incompetent to stand trial for the Fresno motel room drowning of her infant son.

Superior Court Judge Ralph Nunez signed an order Monday that transfers 23-year-old Gabriela Espinosa to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino and directs hospital staff to forcibly medicate her until competency is restored.

Defense attorney Barbara Hope O’Neill told the Fresno Bee that her client needs medicine because she is unable to help in her defense.

Espinosa has been charged with murder for the April drowning of her 2-month-old son Gabriel.

Investigators say Espinosa planned to kill herself and her three children in the motel room. After drowning the infant, investigators say she drove away, leaving her two other children alone.

Idaho: E. Idaho provider sentenced for Medicaid fraud
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced an Idaho Falls man to 15 months in prison for defrauding Medicaid out of more than $65,000 during a four-year period.

The judge also ordered 49-year-old Dirk Moore to three years of supervision after his release and repay the federal government.

Moore is the former co-owner of PSR Services and provided psycho social rehabilitation services for the agency, as well as another agency called Angel Wings Center of Healing.

He was charged by prosecutors for billing Medicaid for services never properly delivered to clients.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said Moore’s criminal conduct was especially damaging because it undermined the public confidence in the government’s ability to run benefits programs.

Moore pleaded guilty to the crime in July.

Rhode Island: Hospital exec takes case to U.S. Supreme Court
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former hospital executive found guilty of corruption in Rhode Island is appealing his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former Roger Williams Medical Center Chief Executive Robert Urciuoli (uhr-see-OLE’-ee) has asked the nation’s highest court to review the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in July upholding his three-year sentence for fraud and conspiracy for buying the influence of former Rhode Island state Sen. John Celona.

He argues the judge who oversaw his trial in U.S. District Court should have instructed the jury about a state law that allows Rhode Island’s part-time legislators to participate in legislation affecting their employers under some circumstances.

Urciuoli started serving his sentence on Aug. 31.

Kansas: Court: officials’ error caused longer sentence
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court says a Kansas man has been in prison too long because of mistakes by a judge, prosecutor and his defense attorney.

Jerry L. Robinson is serving a 10-year sentence for possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. He was arrested in 2005 in Emporia.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Robinson should have been sentenced to only five years.

The appellate judges said Robinson was mistakenly indicted for having more marijuana than he actually had, leading to the longer sentence. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that he pleaded guilty after being advised to by his attorney.

The court says that U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers and Assistant U.S. Attorney James Brown, both of Topeka, and Wichita defense attorney Kurt Kerns all should have caught the mistake.

Massachusetts: Trial underway of man accused of killing girlfriend

WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — The murder trial of a Taunton man accused of strangling his former girlfriend and the mother of his child is scheduled to get under way.

Jury selection in the trial of 34-year-old Souleymane Yacouba-Issa was expected to start Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Yacouba-Issa stalked and strangled 46-year-old Maryse Antoine at her sister’s house in Waltham in March 2009. Authorities say the couple were involved in an abusive relationship and the suspect allegedly threatened to kill her if she reported his behavior.

Yacouba-Issa’a lawyer has said that her client’s rights were violated and has sought to suppress some statements he made to authorities.

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