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In the Nation

Four drug-unit officers charged

McALLEN, Texas - Federal prosecutors announced charges Thursday against four officers from a South Texas antidrug task force who they say took thousands of dollars in bribes to guard large shipments of cocaine.

The officers - two from the Mission Police Department and two Hidalgo County Sheriff's deputies - were members of the "Panama Unit," which is a joint task force between the two agencies that targets drug trafficking, according to prosecutors. Mission's police chief said one of the officers was actually part of a different task force, but a prosecutor's office official didn't immediately respond to a call seeking clarification.

The case sent shockwaves through the local law enforcement community because two of the officers accused are the sons of top local law enforcement officials. - AP

Ala. courthouse a suicide scene

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A worker killed himself inside an Alabama federal courthouse Thursday, going through an employee entrance to avoid a security check that could have detected a gun, officials said.

The U.S. Marshals Service said the worker used an access card to enter the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham. The card system is used at times while the main entrance undergoes renovations.

Police said building services director David Lee Williams, 50, shot himself in the head in a first-floor clerk's office. It was unclear how open or public that area is, and officials would not elaborate Thursday.

Officials said courthouse procedures were under review, but they declined to discuss details. - AP

Man convicted of flight assault

CHICAGO - A federal jury on Thursday convicted a registered sex offender from Aurora of groping a woman as she napped last year on a flight from Las Vegas after celebrating her anniversary with her husband.

Prosecutors said it marked Srinivasa Erramilli's third conviction for molesting a fellow passenger since 1999. He got probation in the other cases.

The jury deliberated about three hours before convicting him of abusive sexual contact on an aircraft. Erramilli, 45, an Indian national, faces up to two years in prison and possible deportation. Immigration authorities will consider whether the software consultant overstayed his visa, authorities said. He is in the United States on a work permit. - Chicago Tribune


A state university

where 10,000 students were locked down for hours reopened Thursday as authorities tried to track two robbers who managed to escape a room-by-room manhunt. A week before final exams, the sprawling campus of California State University, Fullerton, was swarmed by officers after a car chase on Wednesday ended with two suspects in a robbery and shooting running onto the campus. Those two suspects were still being sought Thursday, and three others remained in custody.