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POSTED March 19, 2012 8:32 p.m.

COUNTY DA CANDIDATE SUES RIVAL OVER BALLOT: lOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles city attorney may be the city's top prosecutor but he's nobody's chief.

That's according to a lawsuit filed by a man who's fighting him for the job of Los Angeles County district attorney.

A suit filed Friday charges that Carmen Trutanich (Troo-TAN'-ich) used false, confusing and misleading descriptions for the June ballot.

Alan Jay Jackson seeks to prevent Trutanich from calling himself "chief prosecutor" or "chief criminal prosecutor" when the ballot is finalized next month for printing.

Jackson, a deputy district attorney trying for the DA's seat, argues that Trutanich doesn't personally prosecute violations of Los Angeles city ordinances but is, at best, the "titular" supervisor of the prosecutors. Trutanich's campaign has said the descriptions are accurate

2 INJURED WHEN TREE FALLS IN SANTA ANA: SANTA ANA  (AP) — Authorities say a woman and child were hurt when a 40-foot tree fell onto a Santa Ana sidewalk and street.

Santa Ana fire Capt. Ben Gonzales says a 60-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl were briefly trapped when the tree came down at about 2:50 p.m. Monday.

Gonzales says both were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The woman complained of neck and chest pain and the girl had cuts and scrapes to her face and arms.

He says the tree was one of three that share the same roots outside the Lakeshore condominium complex.

Gonzales says a bus had left several children off just moments before the tree fell just inches from the bus stop.

It's not yet clear what caused the tree to fall.

MISTRIAL DECLARED IN 'HOUSEWIVES' FIRING CASE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Monday in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination trial after the jury deadlocked, leaving an unresolved finale to a trial that focused on the behind-the-scenes intrigue and personalities of TV's "Desperate Housewives."

Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White excused the panel after it deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the claim by Sheridan.

Sheridan strolled out of the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Her attorney Mark Baute said he would retry the case.

The jury first reported problems in deliberations on Thursday then resumed discussions Monday. It later reported no change and said they didn't expect any additional time or attorneys' arguments would help break the impasse.

Two jurors who sided with Sheridan said after being released that the deliberations hinged on witness credibility, but wouldn't specify whom they found to be more trustworthy.

Sheridan had been seeking roughly $6 million from her former employers.

Sheridan claimed her role as Edie Britt was eliminated because she complained that series creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during a September 2008 on-set dispute.

KUTCHER BECOMES 500TH VIRGIN GALACTIC CUSTOMER: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Richard Branson says his venture to launch paying tourists into space has netted its 500th customer, and it's none other than Ashton Kutcher.

Branson made the announcement on his blog Monday. He called the actor to congratulate him and said Kutcher is thrilled at the prospect of being among the first to cross "the final frontier" aboard Virgin Galactic.

A representative for Kutcher did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of its test flight program. The company plans to launch its spacecraft from Spaceport America, a special terminal and runway built in southern New Mexico's desert.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin commercial operations at the spaceport in 2013. Branson says he and his children plan to be on the first commercial flight.

OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK LAYS OFF ONE-FIFTH OF STAFF: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oprah Winfrey's struggling television network, OWN, said Monday it is laying off one-fifth of its workers and restructuring its operations in New York and Los Angeles.

The decision to let 30 employees go is a "tough" one, but the economics of a start-up cable network didn't fit with OWN's cost structure, Winfrey said in a statement.

"As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step," Winfrey said.

The responsibilities of the laid-off workers will be distributed among people with the network and its venture partners, Discovery Communications and Winfrey's Harpo Studios, according to OWN.

The cable channel, which launched Jan. 1, 2011, endured a freshman year of executive turnover and missteps that proved OWN lacked a solid foundation on which to build. This was despite a Discovery Communications investment of a reported $250 million and counting.

Ex-IRS agent sentenced for $8M securities scam

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former IRS agent was sentenced Monday to nearly three years in federal prison for his role in a securities fraud scheme that bilked hundreds of people across the U.S. out of more than $8 million.

A federal judge sentenced George Tannous, 55, of Lake View Terrace, to 33 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay roughly $8.8 million in restitution to more than 200 victims.

Tannous pleaded guilty in May 2008 to one count each of conspiracy and subscription to a false tax return.

Tannous solicited people to purchase unregistered stock through his company Bidbay.com, which developed and marketed an Internet auction website, according to court documents. People were lured to the company by promises it was going to be acquired by eBay.

LOS ANGELES MAN HELD IN HAMMER KILLING OF FATHER: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles man has been arrested on suspicion of killing his father with a hammer.

City News Service says 45-year-old Jun Chang called 911 around noon Sunday and told officers who went to his home that he'd killed his father.

Police say it appears he struck his father, Sun Chang, in the head with a hammer.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder and remained jailed without bail Monday.

There's no immediate word on a motive for the attack.

INSTRUMENT ON CASSINI CRAFT WORKING AGAIN: PASADENA  (AP) — An instrument aboard the international Cassini spacecraft is making measurements again after nine months offline.

NASA said Monday the plasma spectrometer, which measures the energy of electrons and protons, is back in business after engineers spent months troubleshooting the problem.

The instrument was turned off as a precaution last June after Cassini experienced fluctuating voltage. The spacecraft used its other instruments to study Saturn and its many moons even with the spectrometer out of service.

An investigation pointed to "tin whiskers" growing on electronic components as the culprit, causing a short. NASA says these tiny metal filaments can grow in space just like on Earth.

Launched in 1997, Cassini has been exploring the Saturnian system since 2008.

 

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