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POSTED June 7, 2013 7:46 p.m.

EQUIPMENT OPERATOR TO BE CHARGED IN PA. COLLAPSE: PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A felon who was allegedly high while operating demolition equipment when a downtown building collapsed and killed six people will be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a top city official said Friday.

Sean Benschop, 42, faces six manslaughter counts along with six counts of risking a catastrophe, six counts of reckless endangerment and other charges, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison told The Associated Press.

Authorities believe Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when what was left of the four-story building gave way and fell on top of a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers, and injuring 13 others.

A toxicology report showed "evidence that he was high" on marijuana, Gillison said. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.

"The D.A. has approved it (his arrest), and my police officers are out looking for him as we speak," said Gillison, the deputy mayor for public safety.

Benschop, who also goes by the name Kary Roberts, has been arrested at least 11 times since 1994 on charges ranging from drugs to theft to weapons possession, according to court records. He was twice sentenced to prison in the 1990s after being convicted on drug trafficking charges. Benschop's last arrest, for aggravated assault, came in January 2012, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

OHIO MAN FACES 329 CHARGES IN MISSING WOMEN CASE: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of holding three women captive in his run-down home in Cleveland for a decade and fathering a child with one of them has been indicted on 329 charges including murder, kidnapping and rape, prosecutors said.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned the indictment Friday against Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver fired last fall.

Castro, 52, is accused of kidnapping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and holding them captive along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with Berry.

The grand jury charged Castro with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of one of the women's pregnancies. Castro also was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools.

GOV'T RECOMMENDS 4 YEARS FOR JESSE JACKSON JR. : WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors Friday recommended four years in prison for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., following his guilty plea this year on criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.

The government suggested an 18-month sentence for Jackson's wife, Sandra, who pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple's income.

The government is also recommending that Jackson pay $750,000 in restitution to the campaign and that Sandra Jackson make a restitution payment of $168,000.

Because the couple has two children, prosecutors proposed that the sentences be staggered, with Sandra Jackson going first. According to the government, she could be out of prison in little over a year with credit for satisfactory behavior and serving the end of her sentence in home confinement. Both Jacksons are scheduled to be sentenced on July 3.

ARMY SUSPENDS GENERAL LINKED TO SEX-ASSAULT PROBE : WASHIGNTON (AP) — The Army says it has suspended a two-star general from his duties in Japan for allegedly failing to report or properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault.

The suspended officer, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, is commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Japan.

The Army said Friday night that he was suspended by the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, and Army Secretary John McHugh. It provided no details about the alleged sexual assault case.

The Army says that until the investigation of Harrison's role is completed, Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer will take his place in Japan.

NEW LINCOLN MATH PAGES SUGGEST MORE EDUCATION: CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Two math-notebook pages recently authenticated as belonging to Abraham Lincoln suggest the 16th president, who was known to downplay his formal education, may have spent more time in school than usually thought.

And the Illinois State University math professors behind the discovery say the work shows Lincoln was no slouch, either.

Math professors Nerida Ellerton and Ken Clements said Friday at the university in Normal that they'd recently confirmed that the two pages were part of a previously known math notebook from Lincoln's childhood. It was found in the archives of Houghton Library at Harvard University, where it remains.

The book, known as a cyphering book in Lincoln's day, is a sort math workbook in which Lincoln wrote math problems and their answers. It's the oldest known Lincoln manuscript.

Based on the difficulty of the problems involved and dates on some of the pages — 1824 and, on the recently authenticated pages, 1826, when Lincoln was 17 — Lincoln likely worked in the book intermittently over several calendar years while his family lived in Indiana, the married professors said. They think he could have started as early as the age of 10 and believe his work happened while he was in school.

ANDREA BRINGING RAINS, FLOOD WATCHES TO EAST COAST : RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season drenched the Southeastern U.S. but caused no major damage on Friday, marching up the East Coast as it brought the threat of weekend flooding as far north as New England.

After bringing rain, strong winds and even tornadoes to Florida, Andrea was losing its tropical characteristics on Friday even as it still packed maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph).

It was blamed for one traffic-related death in Virginia.

Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for North Carolina and southern Virginia, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 8 p.m. EDT Friday.

 

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