The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 36.0°F | Fair

News Briefs

Supreme Court to Decide if Police Frisking of Pedestrians is Legal

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide whether police, acting on an anonymous tip, can frisk a pedestrian.

Normally, an officer cannot stop and pat down a person without a specific reason to believe a crime is being committed.

At issue in a Florida case is whether a telephone tip from an unnamed informer is enough to justify confronting the pedestrian.

Courts in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida recently have thrown out charges against persons targeted and arrested based on anonymous tips.

Those courts said that, because police had no independent reason to believe the tip was reliable, their search of the pedestrian was unreasonable and violated the Fourth Amendment.

But the Supreme Court has been inclined to give police more leeway in searching motorists and pedestrians. On Monday, the justices agreed to hear an appeal from Florida prosecutors arguing that officers need greater authority to search for concealed weapons.

The case to be heard by the high court began four years ago when a caller told police in Miami that a black youth wearing a plaid shirt was carrying a gun. He was said to be standing with two others youths at a bus stop near the corner of 183rd Street and 24th Avenue.

Six minutes later, Officer Carmen Anderson arrived there, saw a youth wearing a plaid shirt, frisked him and found a concealed gun. The 16-year-old, identified only as J.L., was charged with illegal possession of a concealed weapon.

Eppard Pleads Guilty to Accepting Illegal Payment as Chief of Staff

-- WASHINGTON

Lobbyist Ann Eppard pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor for accepting $15,000 in illegal compensation when she was chief of staff for Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) who is responsible for billions of federal dollars as head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Vernon A. Clark, 69, a lobbyist for clients affected by Boston’s “Big Dig,” the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project, also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor for making the payments to Eppard in 1989 and 1991 and giving her an interest-free $30,000 loan in 1993.

“Eppard, while a key congressional staffer, took money and other benefits from a lobbyist with clients who sought government action in connection with the Big Dig,” said U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern. “The machinery of government is corrupted by under-the-table payments designed to smooth the way for lobbyists.”

U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro sentenced Eppard and Clark each to a fine of $5,000, and fined Clark another $5,000 for a tax offense. As part of a plea agreement, the government dismissed an earlier indictment that charged Eppard with extensive violations of the federal gratuities statute in accepting $230,000 in illegal payments and loans from Clark and others from 1988 to 1993.

“I am greatly relieved that this long and painful ordeal has reached a positive conclusion,” Eppard said in a statement released by her lobbying firm Ann Eppard Associates of Alexandria, Va.