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briefs

Town’s bookkeeper admits $50 million theft

– A longtime bookkeeper pleaded guilty Wednesday to allegations she embezzled more than $50 million from a small city in Illinois to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a nationally known horse-breeding operation.

Rita Crundwell, 58, the former comptroller of Dixon, pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud in federal court in Rockford. Prosecutors have said she stole public money while overseeing the city’s finances and siphoned it into a secret bank account.

The wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say she began stealing money in 1990 to support an extravagant way of life.

Murder charge filed in 1979 NYC case

A man authorities say confessed to the infamous 1979 disappearance of a 6-year-old boy from his New York City neighborhood has been formally charged with murder and kidnapping, a milestone in a case that has stymied investigators and Etan Patz’s devoted family for decades.

The indictment against Pedro Hernandez, 51, of Maple Shade, N.J., was made public Wednesday and sets up a potential showdown at trial over whether prosecutors can convince a jury that his claim that he strangled the boy – a secret kept for more than 30 years – is credible.

Rare gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists have identified a new gene variant that seems to strongly raise the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, giving a fresh target for research into treatments for the mind-robbing disorder.

The problem gene is not common – less than 1 percent of people are thought to have it – but it roughly triples the chances of developing Alzheimer’s compared to people with the normal version of the gene. It also seems to harm memory and thinking in older people without dementia.

Scientists are excited by the discovery because of what this gene does and how that might reveal what causes Alzheimer’s.

Husband run over for not voting

Police in Gilbert, Ariz., say a Mesa woman injured her husband by running over him with an SUV because he didn’t vote in last week’s presidential election.

Authorities say Holly Solomon opposed President Obama and was upset her husband didn’t go to the polls.

Police say Solomon chased her husband through a parking lot, circled him as he hid behind a light pole, struck him and pinned him under the vehicle. Solomon told police she was just trying to scare him but accidentally stepped on the accelerator.

Theater shooting suspect hospitalized

A court hearing for the man charged with the Colorado movie theater killings has been postponed after his attorneys said Wednesday that he had been taken to a hospital for unspecified reasons.

Court documents gave no details of James E. Holmes’ condition, other than that it “renders him unable to be present in court for (today’s) hearing.” The hearing was to discuss pretrial motions and media requests for information under open records laws.

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