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KIDNAPPING SUSPECT CHASE

Minnesota kidnap suspect caught after Calif. chase

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A kidnapping suspect from Minnesota has been arrested after leading police on a car chase into downtown Los Angeles where he escaped officers on foot.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says a fugitive task force lost track of Jesus Ramirez for a few hours before finding and arresting him at a motel in North Hollywood Thursday afternoon.

The task force had been tracking Ramirez, who was wanted in a kidnapping and drug case from earlier this week in St. Paul, Minn.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the case involved the abduction of two people taken to a house and held while their relatives were asked to turn over methamphetamines or cash as ransom.

LA police began chasing Ramirez in his SUV Thursday, but he disappeared into a Broadway building.

FIRETRUCK-RESTAURANT CRASH

Condition upgraded for victim of firetruck crash

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) - Authorities have upgraded the condition of a man who was critically injured in a Los Angeles-area crash involving two firetrucks.

The trucks were heading to a fire Wednesday in Monterey Park when they collided, pushing one into a cafe and injuring 15 people - including six firefighters.

On Thursday, officials say only two people remain hospitalized - a Monterey Park firefighter in moderate condition and a civilian whose condition was upgraded from critical to critical but stable.

California Highway Patrol Officer Doris Peniche tells the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that the civilian is a 51-year-old man with head and leg injuries.

The trucks had their lights and sirens on when they collided at an intersection, but only one had a green light.

NAVY BRIBERY SCHEME

4th US Navy official charged in bribery scheme

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Prosecutors say a fourth member of the U.S. Navy has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a multimillion-dollar scheme involving a Singapore-based defense contractor accused of giving cash, vacations and the services of prostitutes in exchange for information.

The U.S. attorney's office says Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug made his initial court appearance Thursday, a day after special agents arrested him in San Diego. A judge ordered him held on $100,000 bond and subject to GPS monitoring. He hasn't entered a plea, and messages seeking attorney comment were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors allege the 27-year-old Layug, a Japan-based logistics specialist, revealed classified Navy information in exchange for cash, luxury travel and electronics from employees of the military contracting company at the center of the alleged scheme.

US-X-MEN-DIRECTOR-SEX-ABUSE-LAWSUIT

Bryan Singer's lawyer says abuse claims fabricated

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Bryan Singer's attorney says claims by a former aspiring actor that the "X-Men" director molested him when he was a teenager are "completely fabricated."

Attorney Marty Singer wrote in a statement that the director plans to pursue a countersuit alleging malicious prosecution and expects to prevail.

Marty Singer's statement came hours after Michael Egan III appeared at a news conference and accused the director of abusing him when he was between the ages of 15 and 17. Egan included the abuse allegations in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Hawaii.

The attorney is not related to director Bryan Singer, who has directed most of the "X-Men" films and "The Usual Suspects."

The director's latest film, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is slated to be released next month.

NAVY-BATTERY SWINDLE

Ex-Calif. man convicted of US Navy battery swindle

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former Southern California man who fled the U.S. to live on his yacht has been convicted of selling the U.S. military more than $2.6 million in cheap, knock-off batteries that were used in aircraft carriers and submarines.

Federal prosecutors say Didier (Did-ee-yay) De Nier was convicted Wednesday of conspiracy and wire fraud. His wife previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

De Nier was CEO of a company that sold the government 80,000 batteries that were used as emergency backup power for Navy vessels.

Authorities say De Nier and his workers removed "Made in China" markings and slapped counterfeit labels on the batteries indicating they came from approved manufacturers.

De Nier fled in 2012 and lived on his yacht in the Caribbean. He was arrested last fall in the Virgin Islands.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING ARRESTS

Couple charged with human trafficking and slavery

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A suburban California couple has been charged with human trafficking and slavery involving a nine-year-old girl smuggled from El Salvador.

The district attorney's office said the girl, who is now 11, spent two years working four days a week in a Pacoima restaurant owned by Dora Alicia Valle. When she wasn't working there, authorities said she was ordered to clean the home shared by Valle and her boyfriend, Estrada Melvin Sandoval.

The two pleaded not guilty Thursday and their bail was set at $175,000 each. If convicted they face more than 12 years in prison. They allegedly paid to have the child smuggled into the United States.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey spoke out against human trafficking and said her office will not allow children to be treated as human commodities.

CROSS-BORDER AIRPORT

California cross-border airport clears key hurdle

SAN DIEGO (AP) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it has reached an agreement with an investor group to clear the way for construction of the nation's first cross-border airport terminal connecting San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said during a visit to San Diego on Thursday that the agreement requires the investor group to pay the salaries of U.S. border inspectors and the cost of inspection facilities on a pedestrian bridge between Tijuana's existing airport and the United States. He expects construction to begin on the U.S. side next month.

Construction has already begun on the Mexican side at Tijuana International Airport.

Otay Tijuana Venture - a partnership that includes Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell and Tijuana's airport operator - didn't respond to a request for comment.

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

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