Documents, US officials: Ivins was the only anthrax killer

WASHINGTON - Army scientist Bruce Ivins 'was the only person responsible' for anthrax attacks in 2001 that killed five and rattled the nation, the Justice Department said Wednesday, backing the claim with dozens of documents all pointing to his guilt.

Documents made public alleged that Ivins, who committed suicide last week, had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with 'certain genetic mutations identical' to the poison used in the attacks. Investigators also said they had traced back to his lab the type of envelopes used to send the deadly spores through the mails.

Ivins killed himself last week as investigators closed in, and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said, 'We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury.'

FAA: 9 missing, feared dead in fire copter crash

SAN FRANCISCO - Nine people are missing and feared dead in the crash of a helicopter that was carrying firefighters over a Northern California forest, officials said Wednesday.

The helicopter was carrying 11 firefighters and two crew members when it went down Tuesday night in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Four people were taken to hospitals with severe burns, including two in critical condition, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The firefighters had been working at the northern end of a fire burning on more than 27 square miles in the national forest, part of a larger complex of blazes that is mostly contained.

FBI: Hospital CEO arrested in health care scheme

LOS ANGELES - A hospital top executive was arrested Wednesday as federal agents raided three medical centers while investigating an alleged scheme to recruit homeless people as phony patients and bill government programs for millions of dollars in unnecessary health services, authorities said.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the city said the hospitals used homeless people as 'human pawns.'

Fla. authorities search for federal agent's killer

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Investigators are searching for the suspect who shot and killed a federal agent outside a busy South Florida post office.

Authorities said 52-year-old agent Donald Pettit was with his 12-year-old daughter when he was shot by a man during some sort of fight Tuesday morning in the post office's parking lot.

Authorities are looking for a man described as between 50 and 60 years old, six feet tall, medium to heavy build, with gray and white bushy hair and 'distinctive sagging cheeks.'

Judge tells Idaho killer's standby counsel to stay

BOISE, Idaho - Lawyers serving as standby counsel for a man who murdered a family to kidnap and sexually abuse two children asked to withdraw from the sentencing phase of his federal case on Wednesday, but the judge refused.

The attorneys said they could not ethically continue as standby counsel for Joseph Edward Duncan III, who is representing himself, because he apparently intends to base his defense on an irrational and incomprehensible world view.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, however, directed that they remain on the case, saying he would not allow it to be delayed any longer.

Stock-swindler's plea in faked suicide delayed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A hedge-fund swindler accused of faking his own suicide tried to plead guilty Wednesday for going on the lam, but his case was postponed for six weeks after he told the judge that his drug therapy was affecting his ability to think clearly.

If his guilty plea is ever accepted, Samuel Israel III, 49, could have as much as 10 years added to his 20-year sentence for bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Israel tried to plead guilty before a federal magistrate judge Wednesday morning, but she refused and an afternoon session with U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas was scheduled.

Record number of US voters may cast paper ballots

SAN DIEGO - Come November, more Americans might cast their ballots on paper than in any other election in U.S. history.

That wasn't supposed to happen. If everything had gone according to the government's $3 billion plan to upgrade voting technology after the hanging-chad fiasco in Florida in 2000, that sentence would read 'electronic machines' instead of paper.

Instead, thousands of touchscreen devices are collecting dust in warehouses from California to Florida, where officials worried about hackers and fed up with technical glitches have replaced the equipment with scanners that will read paper ballots.