Category: Cronkite News

Weapons conviction reversed for immigrant caught near border

Soyenixe Lopez Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 Weapons conviction reversed for immigrant caught near border WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Monday reversed the firearms conviction of an illegal immigrant who was caught near Green Valley in 2012 with guns, cell phones, a large supply of food and a radio scanner. Rosario Montoya-Gaxiola had argued that the jury in his case received confusing instructions on the charge that he was carrying a sawed-off shotgun at the time of his arrest. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, noting that the circuit’s “model criminal jury instruction” on that charge “if strictly followed, as it was in this case, may result in an erroneous instruction.” “The jury instruction given was erroneous since it failed to instruct the jury as to the first element of the offense, namely, whether Rosario knew that the shotgun’s barrel was less than 18 inches,” making it illegal under federal law, the court said. It overturned his conviction and ordered a new hearing on the firearms charge. Montoya’s attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona said the office would not have a comment on the ruling. The case began on April 3, 2012, when Montoya was caught by Border Patrol agents with his brother, Abel, and a third man, Fermin Ruiz-Bracamontes,...

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Health, homelessness are linked, and must be addressed, advocates say

Soyenixe Lopez Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 Health, homelessness are linked, and must be addressed, advocates say WASHINGTON – Sister Adele O’Sullivan said he was known as Mr. 280, a homeless man with chronic mental illness whose trips in and out of the hospital racked up bills of more than $358,000 over several years. But now, with supportive housing and a part-time job, his health issues are being treated, said O’Sullivan, founder of Circle the City, a Phoenix charity that helps care for homeless people after they have been released from the hospital. She was part of a panel organized by the Alliance for Health Reform that met in Washington Friday to discuss the relationship between health and housing. “Homelessness causes poor health,” said Barbara Dipietro, director of policy and advocacy for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, one of the panelists. “Living in the streets and in shelters is stressful and if you didn’t have issues before, you tend to develop them when you are homeless,” Diprieto said. A perfect example of that was Mr. 280, so-called because he logged 280 hospital visits between 2007 and 2013. He was well-known to firefighters for his frequent calls to 911 asking to be taken to the hospital, O’Sullivan said. It was after he spent several weeks at Circle the City in 2013 that Mr. 280, who suffers from a...

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Court upholds five-year bomb-possession sentence for Tucson man

Aubrey Rumore Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 Court upholds five-year bomb-possession sentence for Tucson man WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Monday upheld a Tucson man’s sentence for possession of 24 homemade bombs that were found in his house in 2011. Todd Fries had argued that the sentencing judge should not have considered his previous convictions on chemical weapons use and making false statements to the FBI when she sentenced him to five years for the bomb conviction. But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that it was Fries who had argued to separate the chemical weapons and bomb charges in the first place. “Accordingly, Fries’ contention that he was punished for successfully severing the unrelated counts is unpersuasive,” Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in the opinion for the court. Fries’ attorney, Richard Bock, was not immediately available for comment Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona said prosecutors would not comment on the ruling. Fries, who was also known as Todd Burns, was indicted in June 2012 in connection with the August 2009 use of a homemade chemical device against former customers of his business, and the May 2011 discovery of the explosive devices at his home. The 2009 attack, which left animal carcasses at the customers’ home and a burning bucket of chemicals in their driveway, resulted in...

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When a dollar is worth $4.4 billion: McCain tries again on dollar coin

Nick Wicksman Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 When a dollar is worth $4.4 billion: McCain tries again on dollar coin WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain calls his proposal to replace paper dollars with dollar coins “common sense” and “logical,” noting that it would save $4.4 billion on the cost of producing currency over 30 years. For more than two decades now, the rest of Congress hasn’t seen the logic. McCain became the third Arizona lawmaker since 1991 to push for elimination of the dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin last week when he introduced the Unified Savings and Accountability Act, which targets “government waste.” Making the dollar-for-dollar switch is one of its recommendations. “You’re taking one form of currency that disappears and is worn out and has to be discarded to another form of currency that lasts forever,” said McCain, who sponsored the bill with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming. “It’s logical.” It’s also the second try for McCain, who vowed this week to carry on the dollar coin “crusade” started by former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe. Kolbe, a Republican who represented a large portion of southern Arizona for nearly two decades, is now co-chairman of the Dollar Coin Alliance. He was out of the country this week and not available for comment, but his alliance co-chair was eager to defend the proposal. “When people understand that there are...

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Arizona workers may be coming up short on their retirement savings

Soyenixe Lopez Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 Arizona workers may be coming up short on their retirement savings WASHINGTON – Less than 40 percent of private-sector workers in Arizona participate in a retirement plan through their work, and they have an average retirement savings balance of just $23,826, according to a recent report. Arizona retirees have the benefit of lower average costs for housing and health care costs when they do retire, according to the report by the National Institute on Retirement Security. But the report and financial experts both said the low costs are outweighed by the fact that Arizona’s private-sector workers are not saving enough to guarantee a secure retirement once they reach that point in their lives. How Arizona scored A scorecard by the National Institute on Retirement Security ranked states in three areas: retirement income, or savings; major retiree costs; and the potential labor marked for older workers. On a scale of 10, Arizona’s got a 4 overall, broken down as: RETIREMENT INCOME SCORE: 3 out of 10 Retirement plan participation: Arizona: 37.86 percent National: 46.0 percent Average savings: Arizona: $23,826 National: $30,345 Marginal tax rate on pension income: Arizona: 3.29 percent National: 4 percent RETIREMENT COSTS SCORE: 6 of 10 Medicare out-of-pocket cost: Arizona: $1,648 National: $1,745 Housing costs for older households: Arizona: 32.2 percent National: 32.7 percent LABOR MARKET SCORE: 4 of 10 Median...

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