News in Brief: Protest trial, fire truck porn scene, smuggled cigarettes

AddThis

9 charged with smuggling cigs into Maryland to resell at profit
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Authorities say nine people have been indicted on charges of illegally smuggling cigarettes from Virginia to Maryland, and nearly 15,000 packs of contraband cigarettes have been seized.

Officials say smugglers who buy cigarettes in states such as Virginia, where the tax on a pack is 30 cents, can illegally resell them in higher-tax states such as Maryland, where the tax is $2 per pack of 20 cigarettes.

The nine indicted list addresses in New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

All told, Maryland state comptroller Peter Franchot says 115 people were arrested in a cigarette smuggling crackdown in Maryland for the fiscal year ending June 30 and more than 180,000 packs of cigarettes were seized.

LA fire truck used as porn film backdrop without approval
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman says the department is investigating allegations that some firefighters allowed porn producers to use fire trucks in adult films.

KNBC-TV reports that a Los Angeles fire engine was used as a backdrop for a porn film shot at Venice Beach. Footage aired on KNBC showed a topless woman sitting on the apparatus.

Captain Tina Haro told the station that the department has “zero tolerance” for the alleged misbehavior. She says Fire Chief Brian Cummings has ordered an investigation into the allegations because they clearly violate department policy.

Downed plane reported in Ohio was really just water park prop
MASON, Ohio — A possible plane crash reported near an Ohio interstate turned out to be only a prop on the grounds of a water park.

Media outlets report a passing motorist on Interstate 71 north of Cincinnati thought it was a downed plane and alerted authorities late Wednesday morning. Fire and emergency crews were dispatched to the scene.

Spokesman Derek Blevins at The Beach water park in Mason tells WHIO radio the decorative prop has been on the property since May and was never an issue before. But he says it may be more visible from the interstate because falling leaves have reduced the amount of tree cover.

Muslim students at UC-Irvine goes to trial over loud protest
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A jury has completed its first full day of deliberations in the trial of 10 Muslim students charged with disrupting a speech by an Israeli diplomat at the University of California, Irvine.

The Orange County Superior Court jury went home for the day Wednesday and will resume deliberations Thursday morning.

The jurors are deciding whether the students broke the law or were exercising a right to demonstrate when they shouted during Ambassador Michael Oren’s February 2010 speech about U.S.-Israel relations.

The students face misdemeanor charges of conspiring to disrupt a meeting and disrupting a meeting. If convicted, they face sentences ranging from probation with community service and fines to a year in jail.