In Brief


Ex-police officer sentenced in molestation of teenage girl

A former Las Vegas police officer was sentenced Wednesday to five years’ probation for molesting a 13-year-old girl three years ago.

Damian Amalfitano, 35, in April entered an Alford plea for one count of attempted lewdness with a child under 14 years of age and possession of child pornography, both felonies. The Alford plea means Amalfitano didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors could prove their case against him.

According to an arrest report, Amalfitano was dating the victim’s aunt when in April 2007 he molested the 13-year-old on three occasions . Amalfitano was off duty at the time.

As part of the plea, prosecutors did not argue at a sentencing hearing. Prosecutors also agreed not to refer the case to federal authorities for additional charges.

Amalfitano, who was a six-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department at the time of his arrest, will have to register as a sex offender.

Amalfitano originally faced almost 30 felony counts, some with prison terms of 10 years to life in prison if convicted. His trial was set to begin next week.

Prosecutors have said the decision to negotiate a plea deal was not influenced by Amalfitano’s former work as a police officer.


Death toll in California pipeline explosion climbs to seven

The San Mateo County coroner has confirmed the deaths of three more people in a pipeline explosion in California, bringing the death toll to seven.

Coroner Robert Foucrault says investigators used DNA to identify 50-year-old Gregory Bullis and his mother, 85-year-old Lavonne Bullis as victims of the blast in the San Francisco suburb.

Gregory Bullis’ son, 17-year-old William James Bullis, was identified after an examination of remains found at the family’s home in San Bruno.


Report: Tour bus driver smoked pot in days before fatal crash

A tour bus driver smoked marijuana heavily for several days before falling asleep at the wheel and crashing in Utah, killing three Japanese tourists and injuring 11 other passengers, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

Yasushi Mikuni, 26, was charged with 10 felony counts of negligent driving under the influence and one misdemeanor charge of having marijuana residue in his system.

Mikuni also faces misdemeanor logbook violation and unsafe lane-change charges in the rollover bus crash Aug. 9 on Interstate 15 near Cedar City.

Mikuni is a Japanese citizen who lived in Las Vegas on a work and education visa.

He flew to Salt Lake City and drove the bus to Las Vegas before setting out the next day for a tour of national parks, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

Investigators don’t believe Mikuni was impaired while driving, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Ryan Bauer said. But Utah law doesn’t allow a driver to have even a trace of an illicit drug in his or her system and "that’s something he’s going to have to answer for," he said.

Mikuni was arrested Monday in Cedar City after volunteering to travel from Las Vegas for an interview with investigators. He could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all of the felony negligence charges.

Bauer said Mikuna had a lawyer but the sergeant didn’t know the attorney’s name.


Fossils of two dinosaur species discovered in southern Utah

Scientists said Wednesday they have discovered fossils in the southern Utah desert of two new dinosaur species closely related to the Triceratops, including one with 15 horns on its large head.

The discovery of the new plant-eating species — including Kosmoceratops richardsoni, considered the most ornate-headed dinosaur known to man — was reported Wednesday in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE, produced by the Public Library of Science.

The other dinosaur, which has five horns and is the larger of the two, was dubbed Utahceratops gettyi.


Prosecutors say corruption ran deep in California city

Eight current and former officials of the city of Bell, Calif., appeared in shackles before judges Wednesday in a corruption case prosecutors said was so ingrained in the blue-collar suburb that almost anyone who could have blown the whistle was benefiting from it.

Former city manager Robert Rizzo was accused of being at the center of the scandal that went unchecked for years while he is alleged to have lent city money to himself, his assistant, City Council members, members of the police force and an array of city workers that included a recreation attendant who borrowed $1,500.

Rizzo also was singled out in a state controller’s audit that said city officials mismanaged more than $50 million in bond money, levied illegal taxes and paid exorbitant salaries to leaders.

Rizzo was being paid nearly $800,000 a year when he resigned earlier this year and had total control of city funds, the audit stated.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Lentz Snyder said all eight officials face lengthy prison terms if convicted of all charges. Rizzo faces the longest sentence, 58 years, and former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia the shortest, 10 years.

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