National Roundup

Mississippi
Ex-governor says he ‘forgot’ gun seized at airport

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says it was “nobody’s fault but mine” that he took a loaded handgun in his briefcase through an airport security checkpoint in early January.

Barbour said Tuesday he will pay a fine after he was stopped and arrested Jan. 2 while boarding a flight from Mississippi to Washington, D.C. The gun was spotted in a TSA X-ray machine.

He says he forgot he was carrying the gun, which he had put in his briefcase after an assistant removed it from his car days earlier.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says a TSA officer working at an X-ray machine at a checkpoint at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport spotted a .38-caliber revolver, loaded with five bullets, in a passenger’s carry-on bag.

New Jersey
Town accused of targeting Jews settles lawsuit over boundary

MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town accused of discriminating against Orthodox Jews from nearby New York state approved a settlement Tuesday with a group that sued over a religious boundary built with white plastic piping on utility poles.

Mahwah Township’s council voted 5-2 Tuesday to settle the suit from the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association after two hours of private legal discussion, the Record reports . The settlement will remain confidential pending approval from the group, says Mahwah Township Attorney Brian Chewcaskie.

The lawsuit was sparked by a now-reversed township ordinance that would have effectively banned the building of an eruv, a religious boundary that some Orthodox Jews rely on to perform tasks on the Sabbath including carrying bags and pushing strollers.

The eruv ban and a separate ordinance that would have restricted parks and playgrounds to local residents were reversed in December after Mahwah was sued by the state attorney general.

The ban was prompted by some town residents’ complaints about overcrowding at the parks and their use by Orthodox Jewish families coming from towns across the nearby New York border.

The Bergen Rockland Eruv Association alleged the ban was an attempt to keep Orthodox Jews from New York out of Mahwah. The eruv association received licenses from the utility company Orange & Rockland before installing the pipes, according to group’s attorneys.

Many Mahwah residents voiced concerns during the legal fight that the expanded eruv meant an influx of Orthodox Jews along with overcrowding and a stressed school system similar to Lakewood. Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker labeled the opposition as anti-Semitic.

Council President Robert Hermansen, who has denied the measures were motivated by anti-Semitism, said that the settlement was the best option for the township.

“This is a good town with good people, and we’re making this decision for good people,” said Hermansen.

Council members Janet Ariemma and James Wysocki voted against the settlement. Some residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting called on the council members to fight against the eruv all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed.

“I know the judge and the New Jersey attorney general are trying to force you to resolve this matter immediately. Do not bow to their attempts to coerce action,” said resident Ralph Fusco. “You have an army of people ready to support you.”


Florida
Deputies: Inmate tried to hire hit man to kill judge

TAVARES, Fla. (AP) — A Florida inmate is accused of attempting to hire a 75-year-old hit man named “the Rabbi” to kill the judge on his child-pornography case.

A sheriff’s report says 56-year-old Robert Anthony O’Hare has been charged with solicitation to commit murder during a phone call from jail on Jan. 7, the day before Judge Don F. Briggs sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Investigators say O’Hare called his mother from the Lake County Jail and gave her a coded message that translated to “kill Briggs.” He asked her to give it to Albert Bowman, whom he called “the Rabbi.”

The arrest affidavit said the mother called her son back, saying Bowman “knows what you want ... but he can’t do it because he’s just a ‘Rabbi.’ “

The Orlando Sentinel reports that O’Hare’s mother said she never gave Bowman a note and the two never met to discuss the matter.

Bowman said there was no plot to kill the judge.

“I’m 75 years old, blind in one eye and have a cataract in the other,” said Bowman, of Mount Dora. “I don’t think I’d hire me as a killer.”

Bowman also said he didn’t get any money.

“I hope someone would look at my bank account. It’s pretty drained right now,” he said. “This whole thing right from the get-go is something that doesn’t make any sense.”

The mother says the numbers she and her son exchanged were Bible verses.

“These are absolutely bogus charges,” she said. “My son never, ever in a million years would do something like that.”

She said the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is out to get her son.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement found more than 50 images and videos of underage girls on O’Hare’s computer in 2015, the arrest affidavit said. Agents said O’Hare used an “elaborate telescope and camera system” to videotape a girl who lived next door while she was undressing. In 2016, he was accused of putting hidden cameras inside miniature jukeboxes, which were then delivered to children so that he could record them in their homes.

O’Hare’s mother said he pleaded no contest to possession of child porn and video voyeurism so he could appeal the case.

Maryland
Measure would arm ‘select’ public school employees

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland state delegate wants “certain, select” public school employees to be able to carry firearms on school property to prevent or minimize the loss of life during school shootings.

The Baltimore Sun reports Republican Del. Rick Impallaria filed his bill on Tuesday, citing the recent Kentucky school shooting and instances of gun violence threats at schools Harford County, which he represents.

Impallaria says his bill would not force school districts to allow their employees to carry firearms on scholl grounds, but instead enable them to work with law enforcement to create programs through which certain employees, such as former military personnel, could be permitted to do so.

Harford County Board of Education President Joseph Voskuhl, who stressed he was speaking for himself, said he would “never support” such legislation.

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