Massachusetts car owners warned of fake websites

Officials are cautioning Massachusetts car owners to be aware of deceptive websites trying to mimic the state’s official Registry of Motor Vehicles site.

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian is warning that fake websites have been created to mislead customers. The state’s official website is:

Kaprielian said the deceptive websites are typically reached by customers using online search engines.

She said customers should avoid any site that refers to the “Department of Motor Vehicles” or the “DMV” since the word “Department” and the abbreviation “DMV” are not used in Massachusetts.

Kaprielian said consumers should also avoid any sites seeking to charge fees to receive basic information or forms, as well as websites offering to conduct business online for RMV customers.

The state doesn’t charge to check license, registration or title status.

Officials warn of Portuguese man of war as beach reopens

A beach on Martha’s Vineyard has reopened, but with warnings that swimmers should beware of painful stings by creatures known as the Portuguese man-of-war.

The Boston Globe reports that South Beach in Edgartown closed at about 11 a.m. Wednesday and opened on Thursday morning. Marilyn Wortman, Edgartown parks administrator, said it closed due to the numerous purplish balloon-like creatures spotted at the beach.

At least 12 man-of-wars were scooped up from South Beach Wednesday. Two lifeguards patrolling the beach were stung and required brief hospital stays.

Man pleads guilty to theft, online resale of books, Legos

A Burlington man who stole books, Legos and other items from retail stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire then resold them online for about half their retail cost has pleaded guilty.

Federal prosecutors say 67-year-old John Strang pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to interstate transportation of stolen property.

Prosecutors say Strang shoplifted as much as $600,000 worth of goods – primarily books, audiobooks and Legos – from various stores since 2007.

He then sold them online for 40 percent to 50 percent off the retail price and shipped them across the U.S.

Strang faces a maximum of 10 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for Oct. 15.


Surviving spouses can keep Purple Heart license plates

Under a new law, surviving spouses of military veterans wounded in combat will be allowed to keep New Hampshire’s Purple Heart license plate until their own deaths or remarriage.

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the bill Tuesday that allows the spouses to pay the required registration fees to keep the plates. The law takes effect Aug. 31.

The bill did not pass without some controversy. Some veterans argued passionately against the proposal, saying that veterans earn a Purple Heart by being wounded in combat and the honor cannot be passed on to a spouse.

Supporters said a spouse honors the veteran by keeping the plate.

They said more than 30 states allow spouses to keep a Purple Heart plate and that New Hampshire was the only New England state that did not.

‘No Camping’ order stands for three homeless men

A judge has ruled against three homeless men who challenged a “No Camping” order on public lands in New Hampshire.

The Concord Monitor reports the ruling allows the state to evict homeless residents from its land around Concord.

The men had said they have a right to camp on the public land in Concord, where officials posted “no trespassing” and “no camping” signs this spring.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on their behalf earlier this year.

The law “does not criminalize homelessness,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler wrote. “The statute is not punitive; rather it is regulatory.”

Attorney Barbara Keshen of the Civil Liberties Union said she’s disappointed with the outcome.

“Where are they going to move?” she asked. “They can’t live on public land. They can’t live on private land. So, you know, what’s going to happen to these people?”

Mary Ann Dempsey, senior assistant attorney general, said the state is prepared to help homeless people move from camps into shelters. She said state officials will discuss plans for enforcement soon.

Concord’s two emergency winter shelters closed this spring.


Waste District sues insurer over contaminated compost

The Chittenden Solid Waste District that inadvertently sold compost contaminated with herbicides last year is suing its insurance carrier to help recover at least part of the more than $520,000 it has had to pay out.

In its lawsuit, the district said officials had believed the product liability coverage it had obtained through the Vermont League of Cities and Towns would have covered its losses from the compost contamination.

But the league refused the claim, citing a pollution-exemption clause in the policy.

“The nature of insurance coverage was open and known to CSWD, its agents and attorneys. As such there could not be any misrepresentation as to the coverage,” the league countered in its court filings.

Last year, the district discovered it had sold compost contaminated with persistent herbicides.

It was determined the herbicides were in a variety of materials the district collected to make the compost.

The district compensated 451 customers whose gardens and crops were damaged, The Burlington Free Press reported.

— From news service reports

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