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Woman charged with larceny of WTC-linked benefits

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Westchester County woman has been charged with trying to collect insurance money and other benefits by falsely claiming her siblings died in the World Trade Center attack.

Roxanna Freeman-Anderson, 34, of Mamaroneck, is being held on forgery, grand larceny and other charges.

Court papers allege Freeman-Anderson went to the family assistance center in Manhattan last month seeking death certificates for her brother and two sisters. She claimed she had last seen them at 7:15 a.m. on Sept. 11, when they were on their way to a breakfast meeting at the World Trade Center, the papers said.

The defendant collected $1,000 from a life insurance policy for her brother, and applied for benefits for her sisters' children. Authorities in Westchester County allege she also bilked a charity there out of $2,000 in rent benefits.

When detectives checked Freeman-Anderson's story, they discovered the three siblings were alive, court papers said. The two sisters told them they had not seen the defendant the morning of the attack.

Jury finds man guilty in slaying of shop owner

SYRACUSE (AP) -- A jury needed less than 90 minutes to convict a man of killing an auto shop owner, despite the man's efforts at shifting blame to someone else.

Paul Kairis, 30, of Syracuse, faces up to 25 years to life in prison after being found guilty Thursday of second-degree murder in the slaying of Thomas Wallis.

Wallis, 41, of Oneida, was shot in the head Aug. 3, 2000, at the AAA Sales and Service car repair shop in Syracuse. Chief Assistant District Attorney Stephen Dougherty said Kairis made prosecutors' job easier by his scheming from jail.

The prosecution presented evidence Kairis had girlfriends plant a BB gun in his home and clothing at the crime scene, months after the crime, in an effort to throw authorities off his track.

Prosecutors also presented evidence Kairis created phony affidavits for fake witnesses trying to implicate someone else in the crime, and that he plotted to escape from the Justice Center jail through the use of a hacksaw and a torch smuggled to him.

Judge Anthony Aloi told the jurors that such evidence of "consciousness of guilt" could be considered in support of the prosecution's circumstantial-evidence case relating to the murder.

Defense lawyer Jerald Harrell said Kairis contributed to his own downfall by his actions.

Sentencing for Kairis was set for Nov. 8.

Mother of DUI victim files lawsuits for $3.1 million

AUBURN (AP) -- The mother of a 14-year-old boy hit by a drunken driver while the boy was chasing a foul ball at a baseball game has filed a $3.1 million lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by Joan Haymon seeks $1 million from Donald Pettit, the driver of the car, and Cindy Simmons, the car's owner; and the same amount from the Ukrainian National Club, where Pettit allegedly drank alcohol before the accident, and from the city of Auburn.

Haymon's son, Leonard, was hit by a car June 30, 2000, as he darted into the street to retrieve a foul ball from Falcon Park, home of the Auburn Doubledays baseball club. He remains in a semi-comatose state, unable to communicate with others.

Pettit, 51, of Scipio Center, was convicted in March of a misdemeanor count of drunken driving and sentenced to six months in jail. Police said his blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent. The legal limit is 0.10 percent. He has appealed the sentence.

In the lawsuit, Haymon claimed Pettit was negligent because he was driving while intoxicated and driving recklessly.

Councilman pleads innocent in cocaine-dealing case

ROME (AP) -- A city councilman denied charges Friday in federal court that he conspired with another man to sell cocaine.

Rome City Councilman John Ciccotti "was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time," said his attorney, Frank Mellace.

Ciccotti entered a plea of innocent and was released without bail. A preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 5.

Ciccotti, 40, is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, said U.S. Attorney Joseph Pavone.

Federal authorities also charged Mark Capponi, 40, a construction worker from Rome, in the same indictment, Pavone said. The federal indictment alleges that Ciccotti and Capponi "conspired to provide more than 1 ounce of cocaine to a confidential source."

If convicted, each could face up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

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