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The nation in brief

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | March 25, 2020 at 2:46 a.m. | Updated March 25, 2020 at 2:46 a.m.

Ex-Trump lawyer denied early release

NEW YORK -- Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, on Tuesday was denied early release from a three-year prison sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

Cohen, 53, is housed at a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., after pleading guilty in 2018. He began serving his sentence last May.

Cohen maintains that he deserves early release for telling investigators about the president's misdeeds.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said it seemed Cohen's request for release to home confinement after serving 10 months in prison "appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle."

The judge, who noted that Cohen raised the danger of getting the coronavirus in prison, also rejected the request on other grounds, including that the defense lawyers were making a request that only prosecutors were entitled to make.

Pauley noted that while Cohen attempted to cooperate with prosecutors after his December 2018 sentencing in the hope of getting a reduced sentence, prosecutors believe Cohen made false statements in his sessions with prosecutors.

In asking for early release, Cohen's lawyers said the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan "stubbornly refuses" to acknowledge the breadth, scope and relevance of over 170 hours of testimony he gave to nine government agencies.

Louisiana sued for owed flood damages

BATON ROUGE -- A group of Louisiana flood victims who have been owed over $300 million for the past decade have filed a lawsuit against the state for failure to pay.

Tangipahoa Parish home and small business owners who flooded in 1983 filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge on Thursday, according to The Advocate newspaper.

The latest lawsuit comes after residents won a lawsuit in 2003 which found the construction of a local highway blocked drainage of the Tangipahoa River. The court ruled the state failed to conduct needed studies on the river, and ordered Louisiana to pay millions in damages plus other costs and interest.

The state government has not paid the flood victims, citing a lack of funds. Now, the total amount owed by Louisiana taxpayers exceeds $320 million.

"At some point, they need to take some responsibility," said Eric R. Nowak, a New Orleans lawyer handling the lawsuit.

New aircraft carrier toilets prove costly

Toilets on the U.S. Navy's two newest aircraft carriers clog so frequently that the ships' sewage systems must be cleaned periodically with specialized acids costing about $400,000 per cleaning, according to a new congressional audit outlining $130 billion in underestimated long-term maintenance costs.

The Navy isn't sure the toilet systems on the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS George H.W. Bush can withstand the demands of daily use without failing frequently, according to the watchdog agency's report on service sustainment costs released Tuesday.

"The pipes are too narrow, and when there are a bunch of sailors flushing the toilet at the same time, like in the morning, the suction doesn't work," said Shelby Oakley, a Government Accountability Office director who manages the agency's ship acquisition reviews. "The Navy didn't anticipate this problem."

The new toilet, similar to what's used on commercial aircraft, is experiencing "unexpected and frequent clogging of the system" so the "unplanned maintenance action" will be needed "for the entire service life of the ship," the Government Accountability Office said in the report requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Deputies ambushed; suspect kills self

SLIDELL, La. -- A call for help in suburban New Orleans led to an ambush of sheriff's deputies and a suspect's suicide, authorities said Tuesday.

The St. Tammany Parish sheriff's office said in a news release it happened shortly after 7:15 p.m. Monday when deputies were sent to a home in Slidell to investigate a domestic violence incident. The sheriff's office said that as deputies spoke in the home's driveway to one of the people involved in the incident, a second person, armed with a firearm, came around the side of the house and began shooting toward the deputies.

The deputies fired back, and the suspect retreated to the side of the home. That's where deputies found him dead, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his head, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's patrol cars were damaged by the gunfire, and one of the deputies was hit by flying glass and suffered minor injuries, according to the sheriff's office.

A Section on 03/25/2020

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