National news briefs

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 22 2010 10:30 p.m. MST

2 firefighters dead in Chicago blaze

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Fire Department officials say five firefighters remain hospitalized after a blaze that left two dead and 17 injured.

Fire officials say the five are in good to stable condition and are expected to be released soon.

More than 170 firefighters were battling the blaze Wednesday when the roof collapsed. Officials say the vacant building was more than 50 years old.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff says preliminary evidence suggests the fire was not the cause of the roof's collapse.

He says the fire appeared to have been contained to an office at the back of the building. There's no word on the cause of the fire.

555 gallons of illegal liquor seized in N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. (NYT) — In a sweep involving multiple locations, North Carolina alcohol agents busted a whiskey still and seized 555 gallons of illegal hooch.

North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agents and Johnston County Sheriff's deputies raided a home in Benson on Dec. 17, seizing 255 gallons of non-tax-paid liquor and destroying 3,948 gallons of corn mash used to make moonshine.

Agents charged two men, John L. Wood and James C. Adams, with violations related to the possession and sale of non-tax-paid alcohol and of equipment used for the illegal distilling of alcoholic beverages. The agents also seized $855 in cash and a car.

Senate GOP blocks Justice nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have blocked the Obama administration's choice for deputy attorney general over concerns about the nominee's links to American International Group.

James Cole was an independent consultant to AIG prior to its near collapse and government bailout in 2008. Republicans complained that confidentiality agreements prevented them from receiving answers about his work for the company.

Democrats cited endorsements Cole received from officials in both parties and high-ranking veterans of the department.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed three U.S. appellate judges: Mary Helen Murguia of Arizona for the 9th Circuit, Scott Matheson Jr. of Utah for the 10th Circuit, and Kathleen O'Malley of Ohio for the Federal Circuit.

The Senate also confirmed Michele Marie Leonhart as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. She has been acting administrator.

'Large Guy' convicted in racketeering case

CHICAGO (AP) — A reputed Chicago mobster convicted of federal racketeering charges has been taken into custody.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the wife of Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno screamed "God!" on Wednesday after a judge agreed that he should be in custody.

His daughter, Angelica, broke down in tears. Sarno had been free on bond.

Jurors in Chicago had deliberated since late Monday before convicting Sarno and his co-defendants. Just one co-defendant has been allowed to remain free on bond as they await sentencing on May 23.

Prosecutors alleged that Sarno ordered two of the four to bomb a rival video gaming company in 2003. They said Sarno and his crew wanted to send a message to C&S Coin Operated Amusements not to encroach on Sarno's turf.

Painkillers take hold in Ohio county

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's newly elected governor says setting concrete goals is the only way to make progress against a prescription painkiller epidemic plaguing a southern Ohio county.

Republican Gov.-elect John Kasich said Wednesday that residents of Scioto County feel as if they've been hit by a "tsunami" of problems that can't be solved.

Kasich says he doesn't believe searching for a silver bullet will work, but that the state instead must focus on achieving step-by-step victories.

Kasich visited Portsmouth during a swing through southern Ohio to meet with area lawmakers, law enforcement officials and health workers.

Woman arrested in hiding son's body

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Court documents say an Indiana woman told police she fed her 3-year-old son olive oil and vinegar until he stopped breathing and died, then hid his body for more than a year.

Fort Wayne police arrested Latisha Ann Lawson this week after family members reported her and her two children missing.

Officers found Lawson and her 10-year-old daughter living in a home provided by a church. They also found a young boy's remains inside a tote bag at the home. A coroner on Wednesday ruled strangulation as the cause of death. Police are awaiting DNA test results, but say the remains are believed to be Lawson's son, Jezaih King.

Lawson remains jailed on a felony charge of neglect of a dependent causing death. She didn't have a defense attorney Wednesday.

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