uMAN WHO WON’T TESTIFY IN NYC BOMBING IS FREED: NEW YORK (AP) — A 24-year-old Brooklyn man has been freed from a New York prison after he was jailed last May for refusing to testify before a grand jury looking into a small bomb that exploded in Times Square in 2008.
Federal Judge John Keenan said Tuesday that Gerald Koch can be freed immediately from prison because there is no realistic possibility he will testify.
Keenan noted Koch condemned the crime. Keenan said if Koch assists in the investigation, “he will be excommunicated by the anarchist community he cherishes.”
Koch’s lawyer confirmed that Keenan had been freed and said they was heartened by the judge’s decision.
No arrests were ever made in the Times Square military recruitment center bombing that resulted in no injuries or serious damage. Koch said the government told lawyers in 2009 that they believe he was in a bar where a patron discussed the bombing.
uMAN SUSPECTED OF MOLESTATION IN QUINCEANERA VIDEOS: LONG BEACH (AP) — Los Angeles police are searching for a photographer suspected of molesting teenage girls during photo shoots for quinceaneras.
The Los Angeles Times reports 53-year-old Gilardo Vallida Nunez is suspected of assaulting at least four victims.
Police say the victims’ families had hired Nunez to document the quinceaneras, coming-of-age celebrations for girls who turn 15.
Investigators say Nunez, owner of Hollywood Photos, would video himself touching the girls inside his yellow Humvee.
Detectives served a search warrant at Nunez’s Panorama City home in December. They seized computers and memory cards from cameras that were in a hidden closet.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Nunez with a charge of felony lewd act on a child and set the bail at $1 million.
uNEW MEXICO WOMAN CALLS 911 TO AVOID TICKET: ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a New Mexico woman called in a fake report of a gunman near a convenience store to help a friend avoid a traffic ticket over a taillight.
Roswell police say 22-year-old Savana Jimenez called 911 Sunday morning hoping the officer who pulled over the car she was a passenger in would get dispatched to the fake crime.
Authorities say Jimenez called 911 while the officer was checking her friend’s information.
Police say Jimenez later admitted making the entire story up so the officer would rush to the fake scene.
Roswell police spokeswoman Sabrina Morales says Jimenez told police she thought she had warrants out for her arrest, but officials say she didn’t.
Jimenez was arrested and charged with obstruction. It was unknown if she had an attorney.
uWASHINGTON GIRL THROWN IN TRUNK CALLED FOR HELP: YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A 15-year-old girl on her way to school Monday was kidnapped by four masked teenage boys armed with a gun who put her in the trunk of a car, law enforcement officers said.
But the girl had her cellphone, called for help and identified one of the abductors as an ex-boyfriend, police said.
Three boys later got out of the car, leaving her with the ex-boyfriend. According to court documents, he discussed the possibility of being killed by police and “taking her with him.”
The Washington State Patrol stopped the stolen car about two hours later on Highway 410 near Bumping Lake in the Cascade Range.
The driver surrendered without incident, and the girl was not harmed, officers said.
uOBAMA CALLS FOR EXPANSION OF INCOME TAX CREDIT: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to expand the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds.
Obama wants Congress to increase the credit for workers without children.
White House officials note that some Republicans and conservative economists have called for similar expansion of the tax credit or, as in the case of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for a new federal wage supplement for certain low-income workers.
Republicans see a broader income tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage. Obama also wants an increase in the minimum wage.
The White House says the tax credit encourages work and helps reduce poverty.
Obama called for the tax credit expansion Tuesday in his State of the Union address.
uMAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN DEADLY LODI CRASH: LODI (AP) — A man has pleaded not guilty to murder, driving under the influence and other charges in a car crash in Central California that killed five members of a family, including a pregnant woman.
The Record of Stockton reports (http://bit.ly/1iH1vy8) that 28-year-old Ryan Morales entered the plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Monday.
Authorities say Morales was driving at freeway speeds in a residential area in Lodi on Oct. 22 when he crashed into a pickup. Five of the pickup’s occupants died.
Authorities say Morales had been drinking apple-flavored vodka with his father. A preliminary analysis allegedly showed his blood alcohol count was 2 ½ times the state’s limit.
Authorities say they sought a murder charge against Morales because he acted with complete disregard for human life.
RATTLED BY RUMOR, CASINO SAYS IT IS SNAKE-FREE: BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania casino is trying to dispel a bizarre online rumor: The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem says patrons aren’t being bitten by snakes.
Casino spokeswoman Julia Corwin said that there have been no reported snake encounters at the Sands. She says if there were snakes, the critters would have been captured by the casino’s sophisticated surveillance cameras.
The rumor circulating on Facebook claims someone went to their doctor with some kind of bite, and the doctor diagnosed a snake bite and asked immediately whether the patient had recently visited the Bethlehem casino.
State police operate a station at the casino. Trooper William Ortiz reports “absolutely zero snakes” inside.