National Roundup

Navy contractor to repay $3.5M to government

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts-based nonprofit research company and defense contractor has agreed to pay nearly $3.5 million to resolve allegations that it improperly overcharged the federal government for some U.S. Navy contracts, federal prosecutors said Monday.

According to the agreement, an audit of Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc.’s 2016 fiscal year costs charged to the government found, among other things, that Draper improperly billed the government for costs associated with internal projects called “opportunity investments,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.

Many of those projects were not of interest to the government, or Draper lacked sufficient documentation to justify the costs, prosecutors said.

The audit also found that Cambridge-based Draper, which helps develop weapons systems for the Navy, lacked sufficient internal accounting controls regarding such projects, prosecutors said.

“Draper fully cooperated in the government’s investigation and is pleased that the matter has now been closed,” Draper said in an emailed statement.

The settlement protects taxpayer dollars, authorities said.

“Draper Lab’s overcharging on Navy contracts wasted valuable taxpayer money and undermined the integrity of the Department of the Navy’s procurement process,” Michael Wiest, special agent in charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Northeast Field Office, said in a statement. “NCIS and our law enforcement partners remain committed to investigating contracting irregularities that diminish the operational readiness and warfighter superiority of the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Police warn of Fentanyl-laced marijuana that led to overdose

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) — Vermont police are warning Vermonters of Fentanyl-laced marijuana, which led to an overdose over the weekend.

Brattleboro Police said that they received a report of an overdose Saturday and used CPR and several doses of Naloxone to revive the patient, WCAX reported.  Naxolone is a drug used in emergency situations to treat narcotics overdoses.

The patient told police that they only smoked marijuana and had not taken any opioids. Vermont legalized recreational marijuana in 2018 for adults over the age of 21.

Officers tested the patient’s marijuana and it tested positive for fentanyl.

US citizen sues after month-long immigration detention

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An American man filed a lawsuit alleging the U.S. government Monday held him for more than a month in immigration detention even though he was a U.S. citizen.

Brian Bukle, 61, sued in federal court alleging he was unfairly kept in an immigration detention facility when he should have been freed after serving a prison sentence in California.

Bukle, who was born in the British Virgin Islands, was transferred to the custody of U.S. immigration authorities in June 2020 after serving a sentence for assault and possession of a firearm, according to Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, one of the organizations representing him.

He said he repeatedly told authorities he was American but was rebuffed by immigration agents, according to the suit. Bukle, who derived citizenship when he was 9 and his parents naturalized, was sent to the Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Central California for more than a month until an attorney got immigration authorities to verify his citizenship status and release him.

“After I served my sentence I thought I would be going home to see my son for Father’s Day,” Bukle, of Corona, California, said in a statement. “Instead, I came this close to being deported and losing everything, a nightmare that has stayed with me to this day.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It said Bukle remains anxious and depressed and suffers nightmares about being deported.

The suit also raises questions about the reliability of databases used by U.S. officials to determine whether someone can be deported from the country. The databases are especially unreliable for people who derived citizenship through their parents when they were young, the suit said.

Trucker arrested in record-breaking drug seizure at border

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A trucker from Mexico was arrested after trying to smuggle record-breaking amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl into the U.S., federal prosecutors said.

More than 17,500 pounds (7,930 kilograms) of meth and 389 pounds (176 kilograms) of fentanyl were discovered last Thursday hidden inside a tractor-trailer at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The seizures are the largest of either drug in the U.S. for both 2020 and 2021, the statement said.

Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias, a Mexican citizen, faces federal drug charges. It wasn’t known Monday if he has an attorney.

The driver’s manifest indicated his truck contained auto body parts, but “anomalies” were detected in the trailer by both an X-ray machine and a drug-sniffing dog, according to the statement.

Ex-animal shelter chief pleads guilty to sex act with underage girl

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — The former director of a central Indiana animal shelters has pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with an underage girl.

Philip H. Peckinpaugh, 36, of Muncie, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor. Under the terms of his plea agreement, four other charges, including child solicitation and possession of child pornography, will be dismissed.

A Delaware County judge scheduled Peckinpaugh’s sentencing for Jan. 12.

He had served as the director of the Muncie Animal Shelter from 2012 until his resignation from that post in December 2018.

Peckinpaugh was arrested in June 2020 after another adult found him in bed with a girl who was then 16, The Star Press reported, citing court records.

Although the age of consent for sexual activity under most circumstances is 16 in Indiana, the girl told police about earlier sexual episodes with Peckinpaugh that took place when she was 15.

Peckinpaugh was also accused of exchanging nude photos with the juvenile online.