Judge hears testimony about alleged war crimes

A judge weighing the punishment for a former El Salvador military leader who pleaded guilty to immigration charges is hearing testimony over allegations he was involved in war crimes before he came to the United States.

A federal judge in Boston heard testimony Thursday while considering the sentence for Inocente Orlando Montano.

Stanford University professor Terry Lynn Karl testified about her report claiming Montano’s troops were involved in dozens of killings and tortured hundreds more.

Prosecutors claim Montano came to the United States partly to avoid possible prosecution for his alleged involvement in a meeting that led to the 1989 slayings of eight people, including six priests.

Montano denies involvement but was indicted in Spain in 2011 in connection with what’s called the Jesuit massacre.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Monday.

More than 100 groups apply to dispense marijuana

A state official says more than 100 groups have applied to operate nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

Initial applications from prospective operators were required to be hand-delivered to the state Department of Public Health on Thursday.

A law approved by Massachusetts voters last November allows a maximum of 35 dispensaries around the state to provide marijuana to patients with medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and AIDS.

During the first phase of a two-part process, state public health officials will conduct background checks and screen applicants for financial viability.

Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett said the department hopes to complete the initial review by mid-September and award licenses by the end of the year.

Applicants were not required to specify locations for proposed dispensaries during the first phase of the process.


Hiker dies after falling into ravine on Appalachian Trail

Authorities say a Delaware man hiking the Appalachian Trail in western Massachusetts has died after a 35-foot fall down a steep ravine.

Sheffield Police Chief Eric Munson says he was one of the first people on the scene after getting an emergency call at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

He told The Berkshire Eagle he arrived to find a group of college students trying to help the man.

The 28-year-old victim, who was hiking along the trail with his 22-year-old brother, fell down the ravine at Race Brook Falls near the Connecticut border. He died as rescuers rushed him from the scene. The younger man was not hurt.

No names had been released as of Thursday morning.

As many as 50 people helped in the rescue.


Driver of black SUV wanted in connection with crash

New Hampshire state police are looking for the driver of a black SUV that struck and seriously injured a 78-year-old motorcycle driver in Nashua.

Police say the motorcycle driven by Theodore Takacs of Nashua was on the Exit 5 northbound ramp for the Everett Turnpike Thursday morning when he was passed by a black SUV that made contact.

Witnesses say the collision caused the motorcycle to roll over. Takacs suffered severe head trauma. He was taken to a Nashua hospital and then airlifted to a Boston hospital.

The accident occurred at about 10:30 a.m.

Police are asking the public’s help in identifying the SUV and driver. They say the vehicle should have scrape marks on its passenger side.

Anyone with information should call 603-223-8668.


Truck driver pleads guilty of stealing used cooking oil

A truck driver has pleaded guilty in a scheme to steal $430,000 worth of used cooking oil from hundreds of restaurants in Massachusetts and Rhode Island to sell in New Hampshire.

Anthony Simone Sr. pleaded guilty on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to charges of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Two brothers, business owners Andrew and Bruce Jeremiah, of Cranston, have pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

Prosecutors say Simone worked for the brothers. They say he would drive a truck to the restaurants between midnight and 6 a.m. and pump used cooking oil into a tank inside the truck. Later, they would sell it to a New Hampshire business that uses it for animal feed and biofuel.


Smoldering goat manure spreads stench for miles

A pile of goat manure spontaneously caught fire, spreading stench and wrinkling noses through a Vermont town but causing no damage, officials said.

The odor evoked “a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire,” Windsor Town Manager Tom Marsh said.

A worker on her way to milk goats discovered the fire in the 120-cubic-yard manure pile around 3 a.m. Wednesday, said George Redick, owner of the 800-goat Oak Knoll Dairy. He and others put out the flames with water from a hose but the pile continued to smolder. He planned to call the fire department later in the morning, but firefighters were already searching for the source of the smell by 6:30 a.m.

Marsh said he could smell the fire at his hilltop home five miles away. He called it “a little disconcerting, because it was a very strong smell.”

Redick says the manure would typically have been spread around the farm earlier in the year, but the rainy season and other factors kept that from happening.

He said he used to think spontaneous combustion was make-believe.

“Now I’m a believer,” he said.

— From news service reports

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