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PORT LABOR

Deal on health care aids port contract talks

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Negotiators hoping to reach a new contract that would keep hundreds of billions of dollars of cargo moving smoothly through West Coast seaports made significant progress with a tentative deal on health care benefits.

The knotty issue had tied up the talks for months. Specific details weren't released.

The union representing dockworkers insisted benefits be maintained, while the Pacific Maritime Association said the current plan was so generous it had become the target for tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent charges.

The association had focused on limiting fraud while dockworkers complained that emphasis had blocked the payment of legitimate claims.

An overall contract deal still hinges on unresolved issues including job security and workplace safety.

The contract covers workers at 29 ports which are key trade links to Asia.

US-DEADLY-SHOOTINGS

Man accused in serial shootings appears in court

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (AP) - A man accused of going on a five-day rampage of serial shootings in the Los Angeles area has made his first court appearance on charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Alexander Hernandez made the brief appearance Wednesday in Superior Court in the San Fernando Valley, where authorities say he carried out most of his crimes.

Arraignment was waived, however, and he was ordered held without bail. The next court date will be Sept. 17.

Hernandez is charged with one count of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder and three counts of animal cruelty.

Authorities say they expect him to be charged with two other killings during the shooting spree.

Three people and two dogs were killed and four people were critically injured. Police have called him a serial killer.

PATROL CAR-CYCLIST DEATH

No charges for deputy whose car killed lawyer

(Information in the following story is from: (Los Angeles) Daily News, http://www.dailynews.com)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Prosecutors say they won't file charges against a sheriff's deputy who hit and killed a prominent entertainment attorney with his patrol car.

The Daily News reports Wednesday that the district attorney's office declined to file charges against Deputy Andrew Wood, who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he hit and killed cyclist Milton Olin Jr. with his car.

Olin, a 65-year-old entertainment attorney and former chief operating officer of the online file-sharing service Napster, was riding in a bike lane in Calabasas in December when he was hit.

Prosecutors said in a letter that because Wood was acting within the course of his duties when typing into his computer, criminal charges are not warranted.

The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department.

PEDIATRIC NURSE-MOLESTATION

Pediatric nurse charged with molesting 2-month-old

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A pediatric nurse in Southern California has been charged with molesting his 2-month-old foster child.

The FBI says Michael William Lutts pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court in San Diego to a charge of sexually exploiting a child. He remains in federal custody.

Lutts was given custody of a 2-month-old premature boy Aug. 4.

The FBI says he began molesting the boy the same day and recorded images and video on a cellphone that was seized at his San Diego home Tuesday.

The FBI says it found more child pornography on computers, DVDs and other media.

Because Lutts' job as a pediatric nurse gave him access to children, authorities are asking anyone with information about other potential victims to come forward.

Authorities didn't have the name of Lutts' lawyer to be reached for comment.

INVESTMENT FRAUD

Southern Californian pleads guilty in $7M scam

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A Southern California man has pleaded guilty to helping bilk investors out of nearly $7 million through a Ponzi scheme.

Federal prosecutors say William Ison entered the plea to a conspiracy charge Wednesday in San Diego federal court and faces up to five years in prison.

Authorities say Ison acknowledged helping Douglas Ellingson solicit investors for various businesses. In seminars around the country, Ison claimed the money would be safe because it was backed by Ison's multibillion-dollar mining company in Newport Beach. He also claimed to have raised billions for charity.

Authorities say in fact, the company hadn't done any mining and some investors were paid with money received from other investors - a classic Ponzi scheme.

Ellingson and two other men previously pleaded guilty.

SMUGGLING BOAT

Smuggling boat with 20 aboard seized off Oceanside

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Authorities have captured a boat that apparently was trying to smuggle 20 people into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Border Patrol says an aircraft spotted the 30-foot panga boat before dawn on Tuesday about 30 miles off the coast of Del Mar in San Diego County.

The boat finally was stopped about 12 miles from Oceanside.

Thirteen men and seven women were detained.

Authorities say they plan to charge two of the men with human smuggling.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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