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HOMESICK HIJACKER

Cuban hijacker appeals 20-year US prison sentence

MIAMI (AP) - An American who hijacked a jetliner to Cuba decades ago is appealing the 20-year prison sentence he got after pleading guilty to U.S. kidnapping charges.

The attorney for William Potts Jr. filed a notice of appeal Thursday. Potts has been seeking credit for the 13 years he spent in Cuba after hijacking the jet in 1984 on its way from New York to Miami.

Potts returned voluntarily from Cuba last year to resolve the U.S. case. Under his current sentence, the 57-year-old Potts would be eligible for parole after nearly seven years.

The FBI says the New Jersey native identified himself during the hijacking as a black militant and claimed in a note to a flight attendant that he planned to blow up the flight unless it diverted to Havana.

TAXES-HEALTH OVERHAUL

Feds cap fines for not buying health insurance

MIAMI (AP) - Federal officials have capped the amount of money scofflaws will be forced to pay if they don't buy insurance this year under the new health care law.

The caps are $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five. The amount is equal to the national average annual premium for a bronze-level health plan.

The penalty for the first year starts at $95 per person and can rise to as much as 1 percent of annual income. The latest figure limits what the government can charge people using the personal income computation. The penalty is due when people file their 2014 taxes.

Conservative lawmakers and groups that are critical of the Affordable Care Act encouraged consumers to skip buying insurance, arguing it would be cheaper to pay the $95 penalty, but often failed to mention the 1 percent clause.

NATIONAL GUARD RECRUITING FRAUD

National Guard recruiter charged with fraud

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa Bay area National Guard recruiter is facing federal charges after authorities say he falsified numbers to earn about $78,000 in bonuses.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa reported Thursday that 46-year-old Travis Devall has been charged with 10 counts that include conspiracy to commit and the commission of wire fraud, theft of government property, and funds and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say Devall worked under the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, which pays bonuses bringing in recruits. An indictment says that Devall provided the fraudulent information from September 2006 to at least July 2010.

Besides prison time, prosecutors also want Devall to pay back the bonus money.

Devall's attorney didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

IMMIGRATION OVERLOAD-STATES

US data show states getting most immigrant kids

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - New federal data show Texas, New York, Florida and California are receiving the most unaccompanied children caught at the U.S. border.

The data published Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families show those four states account for 46 percent of the more than 30,000 children who have been released to sponsors this year through July 7.

The U.S. has been grappling with a surge in the number of unaccompanied children who have been fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the U.S. because they believe they will be allowed to stay.

Children are placed in government shelters and then released to sponsors while they go through deportation proceedings. In many cases, the sponsors are the children's parents, other relatives, or a family friend.

PASCO FATAL CRASH

2 killed in 4-vehicle crash

HUDSON, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say an elderly couple was killed in a four-vehicle crash in the Tampa Bay area.

The Florida Highway Patrol reports that 87-year-old Lee Carl Miller had been traveling north on U.S. 19 in Hudson Thursday morning when he attempted to make a left turn. His Ford Taurus was hit by an oncoming Dodge Charger and Honda Civic, and then a Nissan Altima crashed into the Charger.

FHP says Miller and his passenger, 87-year-old Vilma Ann Miller, died at the scene. The Charger's driver sustained minor injuries but was not taken to a hospital. No other injuries were reported.

Everyone involved in the crash was reportedly wearing a seatbelt. No charges have been filed.

LEGENDARY GUITAR

SD museum, collector dispute Elvis' broken guitar

SOIUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - An acoustic guitar Elvis Presley smashed during his final tour has sparked a custody fight between a South Dakota museum and a collector who insists he's the rightful owner.

Now a federal judge must sort out whether blues guitarist Robert A. Johnson even technically owned the broken instrument last year when he donated it to the National Music Museum along with one of Bob Dylan's harmonicas and a guitar made for Johnny Cash.

The National Music Museum insists in a lawsuit that it is the legal owner of the guitar the rock-and-roll king played during his 1977 tour. He gave it to a fan in St. Petersburg, Florida, after he broke it when a strap and string snapped.

Collector Larry Moss says Johnson sold him the guitar earlier.

LAWYER-MILLIONS MISSING

2nd Fla. deputy gets prison in Ponzi case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A second former Broward Sheriff's Office deputy has been sentenced to prison for falsely arresting a woman as part of a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme operated by a disbarred lawyer.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Jeff Poole to a year and a day behind bars for a civil rights conspiracy conviction. Poole had faced up to 10 years but got less because he cooperated with prosecutors.

Court documents show Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein used high-level contacts in the sheriff's office to have Poole arrest the ex-wife of one of Rothstein's friends on trumped-up drug charges. The friend wanted to use the arrest in a child custody battle.

Former BSO Lt. David Benjamin got five years behind bars for ordering the arrest.

Rothstein is serving 50 years for the scam.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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