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Friday, May 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Local Digest

Man, 20, enters plea over computer virus


A 20-year-old California man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to infecting as many as 50,000 computers with a "botnet" virus that caused more than $135,000 in damage to military computers and caused problems in a Seattle hospital.

Federal prosecutors said Christopher Maxwell of Vacaville, Calif., and two juveniles created and unleashed a type of computer virus that turned the computers it infected into robot computers that did their bidding.

The three created the virus to infect computers with adware for which the government claims they were paid more than $100,000.

The virus, which infected computers in Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in January 2005, caused numerous problems. Maxwell, who pleaded guilty to committing computer fraud and intentionally damaging a protected computer, could face up to five years in prison and will likely face a fine of more than $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


Prosecutor appeals Colacurcio ruling

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng has appealed a judge's dismissal of criminal charges against Seattle strip-club owner Frank Colacurcio Jr. and three others stemming from the 2003 "Strippergate" controversy.

Colacurcio Jr., his father, Frank Colacurcio Sr., and longtime associates Marsha Furfaro and Gil Conte were charged with conspiring to funnel illegal campaign contributions to three Seattle City Council members.

The alleged scheme involved reimbursing dozens of straw donors in an effort to get around city campaign-contribution limits. Prosecutors charged the defendants under a law making it a crime to cause false government documents to be filed, in this case campaign-finance reports.

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Fox tossed out the charges in February, ruling that the conduct Colacurcio and others were accused of is governed by the state's Public Disclosure Act, which does not allow for criminal charges.

In an appeal filed this week with the state Court of Appeals, prosecutors argue that they have the discretion to charge the defendants under the false-document law.


Ruckelshaus picked for UW ceremony

William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under two presidents, will speak at the University of Washington's June 10 commencement.

About 4,500 students are expected to participate in the ceremonies at Husky Stadium, which start at 2 p.m.

Ruckelshaus, 73, is chairman of the new WSU-UW Policy Consensus Center, a joint effort to resolve difficult public-policy issues.

President Nixon put Ruckelshaus in charge of the EPA when the agency was formed in 1970. Ruckelshaus also served as the acting director of the FBI and deputy attorney general under Nixon. He later served as EPA administrator under President Reagan.

In the private sector, Ruckelshaus has held a number of positions, including senior vice president for law and corporate affairs for Weyerhaeuser and chief executive of Browning-Ferris Industries.


Teacher discusses sex-misconduct plea

A Lynnwood High School teacher said in court Thursday that he plans to plead guilty to first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor for having a romantic relationship with a student.

James Lowell Stone, 46, is accused of having a relationship with a 17-year-old female since last fall, according to court documents.

He faces between six months and a year in prison and must register as a sex offender upon release, said Deputy Prosecutor Matt Baldock.

Stone is on paid administrative leave from the Edmonds School District but will be terminated immediately upon his guilty plea, said school district spokeswoman Debbie Jakala. He had requested a hearing to contest termination proceedings against him but that won't be necessary if he pleads guilty, Jakala said.


Planned station will become park

Land once meant for a monorail station will become a park in the Morgan Junction area of West Seattle.

City officials announced the deal Thursday, after the Seattle Monorail Project's (SMP) board accepted a $1.3 million offer for the former Video Vault and Fauntleroy Auto Works sites. The buyer, Gary Sink, plans to move his nearby Beveridge Place Pub into the video store. The city will pay him $747,000 for the auto shop, which will be demolished to make room for the park.

The city's Pro Parks Levy in 2000 included money for a park at an old electric substation nearby, but neighbors prefer the monorail site along California Avenue Southwest, just north of Southwest Morgan Street.

So far, SMP has made deals on 32 of the 34 properties that became surplus when voters stopped the monorail plan last year. Offers total $72.8 million, one-fourth more than taxpayers spent for the sites.


Auditor to become court administrator

Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger will be appointed the county's Superior Court administrator beginning Jan. 1.

Terwilliger will replace Richard Carlson, who is retiring. Terwilliger will be responsible for the oversight of daily court operations for superior and juvenile court and for approximately 240 staff members.


Teen pleads guilty after dog harmed

A 14-year-old Federal Way boy pleaded guilty Thursday morning to first-degree animal cruelty for hanging a dog from a tree.

The dog, a neighbor's pet, survived after being rescued by two other children.

The boy, who was charged in King County Juvenile Court, received 30 days detention, a year of community supervision, 24 hours of community service, counseling and a mental-health assessment. He also was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with animals, including his family's dog.


Deadly accident in boat spurs charge

A Seattle man was charged in King County Superior Court Thursday with homicide by watercraft in the death of a 13-year-old girl on Lake Washington last summer.

Seattle police say that Charles Fraser Hall, a 44-year-old mortgage broker, was driving his 20-foot ski boat on the lake after 10 p.m. on July 19, 2005, though the red and green running lights on his bow were not working. In the boat with Hall were his four children, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old, and one of his children's 13-year-old friends.

Police allege that Hall had noticed the day before that the navigation lights were out but was speeding on the lake that night anyway. About 1,000 feet off Magnuson Park, Hall's boat collided with an 18-foot Bayliner. The 13-year-old girl in the boat, who was not wearing a life vest, was thrown backward through the windshield, suffered brain and neck lacerations and was killed.

One of Hall's 6-year-old twins was seriously injured in the accident.

Hall also is charged with assault by watercraft. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 18.

Times staff and news services

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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