Synagogue, congregation told not to discuss lawsuits

A federal judge in Rhode Island has told lawyers for the oldest synagogue in the United States and the nation’s first Jewish congregation not to speak with the media about lawsuits they’ve brought against each other.

U.S. District Judge William Smith in Providence is trying to mediate a settlement between the Touro Synagogue in Newport and Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City. The dispute began when leaders of the nearly 250-year-old Touro Synagogue agreed to sell a set of Torah finial bells from Colonial times for $7.4 million to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Congregation Shearith Israel, established in 1654, says it owns the bells, as well as the synagogue.

Smith met privately with the two sides on Jan. 3 and told them not to discuss the case with the media, representatives for both sides told The Associated Press this week.

David DiMarzio, clerk of court at the U.S. District Court in Providence, told the AP on Friday that Smith has not entered a gag order, so the lawyers do not face formal sanctions if they speak. He said Smith is following court procedures for such cases. 


Pharmacy tech loses license over charges she stole drugs

The New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy is issuing an emergency order suspending the license of a Walgreens pharmacy technician suspected of stealing at least 300 prescription pain relief pills.

The board said Brittany Bertone of Danville may no longer work as a pharmacy technician pending the outcome of criminal charges against her.

Exeter police charged Bertone with stealing at least 300 hydrocodone tablets from her employer, Walgreens, in Exeter. The thefts are alleged to have occurred from June through December of 2012.

Bertone has had a license to practice as a pharmacy technician since November 2010. The board suspended her license Wednesday, saying her continued practice poses an imminent danger to life or health. 


Hospital cancels surgeries due to sterilization problems

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester is cancelling some scheduled surgeries at its Memorial Campus because of a problem with instrument sterilizing equipment.

Chief Medical Officer Stephen Tosi said in a statement Friday that particles resembling ground pepper were found in the equipment. Tosi said the material isn’t infectious and the affected instruments haven’t been used on patients. He said the particles tested as inorganic and nontoxic.

He said the problem is partly with the water supply and partly with sterilizing system. He said the hospital is “working around the clock” to correct it, including installing additional water filters, equipment and changing water lines.

He said the hospital is temporarily sterilizing most equipment at its other facilities, but also needed to reduce the volume.

The Telegram & Gazette newspaper reported an internal memo on the situation Friday. 


Hard Rock joins competition vying for one casino license

Hard Rock International is joining with the Eastern States Exposition to propose a $700 million resort casino in West Springfield, expanding the competition for the single license to be granted in western Massachusetts.

At a formal announcement Friday, the Big E’s CEO Gene Cassidy called it “an opportunity to preserve the past and ensure the future.”

The proposed casino would be developed on 40 acres of Big E property and include a hotel and Hard Rock Cafe along with other shopping and dining, convention space and a music museum.

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said the resort could create up to 2,000 jobs.

Three other proposals are already on the table: MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming have proposed resorts in Springfield, and Mohegan Sun is proposing one in Palmer. 

— From news service reports