In Texas, spammer settles lawsuits

AUSTIN, Texas -- One of the world's most notorious spammers has settled lawsuits with Texas and Microsoft Corp. that cost him at least $1 million, took away most of his assets and forced him to stop sending the nuisance e-mails. Ryan Pitylak, 24, who graduated from the University of Texas last month, has admitted sending 25 million e-mails every day at the height of his spamming operation in 2004. The civil settlements were both reached last month in federal court. As part of the settlement with Microsoft, Pitylak promised never again to send out false, misleading or unsolicited commercial e-mails.

After fire, manager wrote apology letters

JOHNSTON, R.I. --The former rock band tour manager whose pyrotechnics display for a concert at The Station nightclub in West Warwick on Feb 20, 2003, started the fire that killed 100 people wrote personal letters to the families of each person killed. Daniel Biechele, who tearfully apologized in court last month before being sentenced to four years in prison, wrote the letters before the sentencing. They are being distributed by the state probation department.

Evacuees return after Arizona fires

SEDONA, Ariz. --Crews fighting an 836-acre wildfire that destroyed five buildings south of this scenic northern Arizona community gave evacuees the go-ahead to return home yesterday. Thirty homes out of about 200 in the Pine Valley subdivision were evacuated Thursday when the fire broke out. The blaze destroyed one home and four buildings. Another home was damaged. Investigators said it appeared the fire was started by sparks from the grinder of a company working on a fence post.

Florida localities can allow dogs to dine

ORLANDO, Fla. --At just 1 year old, Theo had already turned to a life of crime. The Yorkie would sneak into restaurants inside his owner's bag, but he and Marcy Richardson were occasionally kicked out. Now, the 26-year-old Richardson and Theo can stop worrying and start chowing down. Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill Friday that allows local governments to let restaurants permit dogs to eat with their owners outside. Florida health regulations previously prevented all dogs except service animals from joining patrons, although several restaurants ignored the rules until regulators started cracking down.

2 are arrested in jewelry-theft ring

RIVERSIDE, Calif. --The Riverside County sheriff's department says it has cracked a jewelry-theft ring, arrested two people and recovered more than $4 million in merchandise stolen from ritzy boutiques in Southern California. The operation ranged from Beverly Hills to Palm Desert. Sheriff's investigators executed nine search warrants in the Los Angeles area to bust up the network and recover cash and goods, including jewelry and stacks of $100 bills.

Men charged with plotting to kill kids

TAVARES, Fla. --Two Florida jail inmates each face charges of conspiring to kill children who are scheduled to testify against them in separate abuse cases. One inmate, Daniel King, 25, offered someone $5,000 to kidnap and kill a 5-year-old girl who accused him of forcing her to engage in a sex act, according to the Lake County sheriff's office. The other inmate, Jeffrey Roden, 36, wrote a letter to his father asking for $1,000 so he could hire a hit man to kill his girlfriend and her 4-year-old son, deputies said. The boy had accused Roden of beating him with a belt. Authorities said the tips came from the sheriff's jail-intelligence unit.

US Airways to stop serving peanuts

PHOENIX --US Airways will stop serving peanuts on its flights because of concerns about passengers who are allergic to the snacks. The airline expects to exhaust its peanut supply this month and will then offer pretzels or mixed nuts without peanuts. Passengers may still bring their own peanuts or food items containing peanuts on flights. Several other major airlines have already stopped serving peanuts.

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