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NATION IN BRIEF: Feds probe NYC Prius crash

The Associated Press . A 2005 Toyota Prius sits behind the police station in Harrison, N.Y., after it was involved in an accident Tuesday. The driver, a 56-year-old housekeeper, escaped serious injury but told police that the car accelerated on its own.

The Associated Press . A 2005 Toyota Prius sits behind the police station in Harrison, N.Y., after it was involved in an accident Tuesday. The driver, a 56-year-old housekeeper, escaped serious injury but told police that the car accelerated on its own.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- The crash of a Toyota Prius in New York caught the attention of federal regulators Wednesday after the driver said it accelerated on its own, then lurched down a driveway, across a road and into a stone wall.

The crash heightens the attention surrounding unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles and a recall involving more than 8 million vehicles to address gas pedals that can become sticky or trapped under floor mats.

The Department of Transportation is looking into the New York crash, spokeswoman Olivia Alair said Wednesday.

Capt. Anthony Marraccini of the police department in Harrison, north of New York City, said that a regional Toyota official asked to collect the Prius involved in the crash but that the police are ''not prepared to release it just yet.''

Ex-Detroit official gets 37-month prison sentence

DETROIT -- A former Detroit city councilwoman was sentenced to more than three years in prison Wednesday for bribery after a federal judge refused to set aside her guilty plea during a stormy court hearing dominated by a dispute over evidence of other payoffs.

As guards cleared the packed courtroom, Monica Conyers yelled that she planned to appeal. The wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, suggesting she was the victim of ''badgering'' last year when she admitted taking cash to support a Houston company's sludge contract with the city.

But U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, reviewing a transcript of the June hearing, said Conyers had denied any coercion and voluntarily pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Gunmen sought after boy's 911 call for help

NORWALK, Calif. -- Detectives on Wednesday searched for three armed robbers who broke into a home and threatened the parents of a 7-year-old boy who called 911 from a locked bathroom.

The assailants held the parents at gunpoint Tuesday while the boy and his 6-year-old sister hid in a bathroom. The boy, identified only as Carlos, told a dispatcher there was ''some guy who's going to kill my mom and dad'' and begged authorities to ''bring cops. A lot of them! ... And bring soldiers, too.''

Deputies were on scene within three minutes, but the assailants had escaped in a green or gray two-door compact car, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Douglas Jensen said.

Tainted ingredient sold after FDA finds salmonella

WASHINGTON -- The company responsible for a ballooning recall of processed foods continued to manufacture and distribute a flavor-enhancing ingredient for a month after tests confirmed it was made with contaminated equipment, according to a Food and Drug Administration report.

FDA inspectors said the company, Las Vegas-based Basic Food Flavors Inc., knew of salmonella contamination on its equipment after it received the results of a private inspection on Jan. 21. Despite two additional inspections that showed contamination, the company continued to distribute the ingredient, called hydrolyzed vegetable protein, until Feb. 15, and continued to manufacture it until Feb. 20.

House bans misleading census mailings

WASHINGTON -- The House passed legislation Wednesday that would ban misleading mailings designed to appear they're from the Census Bureau, following criticism that Republican groups were sending fundraising letters using the census name.

Under the bill, mailings marked ''census'' will be required to state the name and address of the sender, along with an unambiguous disclaimer that the survey was not affiliated with the federal government.

Mass. upholds gun-lock law

BOSTON -- The highest court in Massachusetts on Wednesday upheld the constitutionality of a state law that requires gun owners to lock weapons in their homes in a ruling applauded by gun-control advocates.

The case had been closely watched by both gun-control and gun-rights proponents.

Massachusetts prosecutors argued that the law saves lives because it requires guns to be kept in a locked container or equipped with a trigger lock when not under the owner's control.