The week at a glance ... United States

United States

Vancouver, Wash.

Acid attack a fake: Prosecutors this week said a woman admitted that she’d lied when she told authorities that a stranger had thrown acid in her face. Bethany Storro, 28, told police that, contrary to her previous claim that a black woman had attacked her in a park, she’d smeared drain cleaner on her own face in a suicide attempt. She had concluded that if the attempt failed, “she could get her face redone,” said Detective Wallis Stefan. Promoting her concocted tale, Storro had appeared on Good Morning America and had received more than $20,000 in donations to a fund to offset her medical bills. “Until yesterday,” said Storro’s parents, Nancy and Joe Neuwelt, “we believed her fully.”

Bell, Calif.

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Public corruption charges: Eight current and former city officials were charged this week in a case that Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley called “corruption on steroids.” Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo faces 53 counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest stemming from his compensation package, which included $787,638 in salary, for administering the town of 37,000. In addition to Rizzo, the city’s assistant city manager and mayor were also arrested and charged. Prosecutors say that, in total, the eight city officials had misappropriated more than $5.5 million. Bell Police Chief Randy Adams, who was paid a salary of $457,000, wasn’t charged with a crime. The median income in Bell is about $35,000.

Los Alamos, N.M.

Scientist charged as spy: An elderly physicist and his wife, both of whom had worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, were arrested last week on charges that they’d tried to sell classified nuclear weapons data. Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 75, and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 67, pleaded not guilty. The charges evolved from an FBI sting in which Pedro Mascheroni allegedly offered to sell secrets to an undercover agent posing as a Venezuelan official. In return for $793,000, Mascheroni provided information that he allegedly said could help Venezuela “develop a nuclear bomb within 10 years.” A U.S. citizen and native of Argentina, Mascheroni worked from 1979 to 1988 as a scientist at the lab, where he’d promoted a plan to generate fusion energy from lasers.

Allentown, Pa.

Penn star had brain disease: Researchers this week said a University of Penn­sylvania football player who committed suicide in April showed evidence of a kind of brain damage associated with athletes who’ve suffered repeated head blows. An autopsy of former Penn captain Owen Thomas revealed early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that’s also linked to depression and erratic behavior. Thomas, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive end, shocked family and friends when he hanged himself in his apartment. “There have been several cases of suicide in the past amongst people who were found to have CTE,” said Dr. Robert Stern, an expert on CTE at Boston University. In another likely suicide, Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, 23, died this week from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot.

Lincoln, Del.

Allegations dog O’Donnell: A watchdog group this week said GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell used campaign funds “as her very own personal piggy bank.” The nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleged that O’Donnell used $20,000 in campaign funds to pay for rent, gas, and even bowling. “She never thought anybody would look at her campaign finances very closely because she was not considered a serious candidate,” said the group’s executive director, Melanie Sloan. O’Donnell said the charge was politically motivated. O’Donnell also responded to a 1999 video clip in which she says she had “dabbled” in witchcraft: “How many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school?” she said.

Washington, D.C.

Carter blames Kennedy: Former President Jimmy Carter blasted the late Sen. Edward Kennedy this week, saying Kennedy had scuttled comprehensive health-care reform during Carter’s presidency. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Carter said that Kennedy—who’d challenged Carter, the incumbent president, for the Democratic nomination in 1980—was responsible for “deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed.” In another interview, Carter told NBC News that his work on international and domestic issues as an ex-president is “probably superior to that of other presidents.” Carter, who is promoting his new book, White House Diary, later issued a statement saying, “What I meant was, for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good.”

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