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Associated Press

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 4:36 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 20 at 5:06 AM


Jury says portrait of Fawcett belongs to O'Neal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury says an Andy Warhol portrait of late actress Farrah Fawcett belongs to actor Ryan O'Neal and he should be allowed to keep it.

The panel of six men and six women reached its verdict Thursday after a three-week trial. O'Neal has maintained for years that the portrait, one of two Warhol created, was a gift from the artist in 1980.

Fawcett left all of her artwork to the University of Texas at Austin, which sued O'Neal to gain possession of the portrait. The school received another version of the Fawcett portrait after the actress' death in June 2009.

O'Neal testified the artwork remained a treasured memento of his relationship with Fawcett. He said he wanted to leave it to his son with the actress, Redmond O'Neal.


Judge: US government assisting child smuggling

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is assisting in criminal conspiracies to smuggle children into the country when it helps reunite them with parents who are known to be in the U.S. illegally.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville made the comments in a 10-page order issued last week at the conclusion of an immigrant smuggling case.

Hanen sentenced a smuggler to 10 months in prison. But he saved his most withering words for the U.S. government for not arresting and deporting the mother who hired the smuggler.

His order doesn't have the power to change policy. But in it, Hanen expressed his frustration at having four similar cases pass through his court in the past month.


Texas official wants tougher sentences after wreck

DALLAS (AP) — Texas' lieutenant governor says he wants a state Senate committee to review sentencing for intoxication manslaughter cases after a teen got probation for a wreck that killed four people.

David Dewhurst announced Thursday that he's issuing a "charge" to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice to study sentencing in such cases. As lieutenant governor, Dewhurst presides over the Texas State Senate.

Dewhurst says drunk driving is a personal issue for him: His father was killed by a drunken driver when he was 3 years old.

His announcement comes amid outrage over the sentence of Ethan Couch. The 16-year-old teen was given 10 years' probation after a June wreck in North Texas that left four people dead and two severely injured.


Ex-West Texas mayor sentenced to prison

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A former mayor of the West Texas town of Socorro who was also a former president of the town's school board school has been sentenced to 3½ years in prison after pleading guilty in a federal corruption case.

Guillermo "Willie" Gandara Sr. received the sentence Thursday in El Paso for using his influence with the Socorro school district school board to secure health services contracts for Access HealthSource. His prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release.

Gandara had pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered that Gandara pay a $25,000 fine as well as about $5,500 restitution to the Socorro school district.


Soldier charged for trying to sell explosive

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Prosecutors say a U.S. Army soldier has been charged with trying to sell explosive material that he stole following a field exercise at Fort Hood.

A news release from U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said the federal criminal complaint charging 23-year-old Tyler Glen Patrick with possession and transportation of stolen explosive material was unsealed Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, Patrick was arrested Tuesday in Copperas Cove after trying to sell a 1¼-pound block of C-4 explosive.

Patrick remains in federal custody. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. Attempts by The Associated Press to determine whether he had an attorney yet were unsuccessful.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the case.


Suburban Houston illness attributed to H1N1

(Information in the following story is from: Houston Chronicle,

CONROE, Texas (AP) — Public health officials in suburban Houston say the H1N1 virus was the cause of a man's recent illness but they're still investigating what has sickened others, including four who died.

The Houston Chronicle reports ( ) that eight patients with similar symptoms were reported this month by Conroe (KAHN'-roh) Regional Medical Center, about 40 miles north of Houston.

The results from advanced testing on the other cases are expected by the weekend.

Hospital officials say none of the four who died had gotten a flu shot. The H1N1 virus was originally called swine flu.

County health officials, Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring the cases.


More lakes may be included in zebra mussel fight

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — State officials fighting the spread of invasive zebra mussels want the public's input on a proposal to require that people in 30 more counties drain all boats operating on public water after use.

A release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Thursday said the 30 counties are in Central and North Texas.

Earlier this month, the commission implemented permanent requirements for boaters in 17 North Texas counties to clean, dry and drain all watercraft before and after entering lakes and streams.

Zebra mussels were first confirmed in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. The pesky and invasive creatures can clog pipes and damage boat motors, and have since spread to several North Texas lakes.


Nandita Berry named new Texas secretary of state

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Houston attorney Nandita Berry has been appointed Texas secretary of state, becoming the first Indian-American to be named the state's chief elections officer.

Berry is the wife of conservative Houston radio talk-show host Michael Berry, whose guests have included Gov. Rick Perry and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

Perry chose Nandita Berry to replace John Steen, who will step down in January after a year on the job.

Perry said Thursday that Berry "personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication." He said she arrived from India at age 21 with no more than $200 to her name.

Nandita Berry is a former University of Houston regent and board member of several civic organizations around Houston.