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NYC Mayor on Blizzard 2015: Travel Ban Was a 'No-Brainer'


Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin(NEW YORK) -- New York City's mayor is defending a complete travel ban officials ordered ahead of a snowstorm overnight that halted subway service and cleared city streets of cars even as New York City got far less snow than feared.

The travel ban was a "no-brainer based on the forecast" New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday at a news conference.

Forecasts called for perhaps two feet of snow. Most of the city got far less, though 11 inches fell at LaGuardia Airport in the eastern borough of Queens, which was harder hit than other parts of the city.

Responding to a question about potential loss of business amid the travel ban, de Blasio said if the storm had hit at the strength of the most severe forecasts, business might have been hindered for days, rather than just Monday evening and Tuesday morning. In addition, he argued, snow removal crews would have had a harder time clearing the snowfall amid all the cars. And, he said, lives could have been lost.

"It was right to take extraordinary precautions," the mayor said. "We got lucky this turned out a lot better than we feared. We were prepared."

"My job as a leader is to make decisions, and I will always err on the side of safety or caution," he added.

"We got about half as much" as what was expected, de Blasio said. "We were spared the worst of this storm.

"Just 20, 30 miles east of the city border in Long Island, they got exactly what was originally projected for here," de Blasio said. "Our friends in Boston got what was projected for here."

The city-wide travel ban was lifted at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, but de Blasio said the subway will not return to full weekday capacity on Tuesday. City parks reopened Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The public transit system is "quickly coming back to life," the mayor said. "The worst has passed."

New York's blizzard warning was cancelled Tuesday morning, but a winter storm warning remains in effect until midnight Tuesday night.

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Maryland Sinkhole Nearly Swallows Two Cars


ABC News(BLADENSBURG, Md.) -- Two cars partially fell into a sinkhole in a Washington, D.C., suburb early Tuesday morning after a water main break.

A Bladensburg, Maryland, family was forced to leave around 4 a.m. after discovering water in their home, a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman told ABC News.

When the family, which included a father and his 8-year-old son and 4-year-old and 6-month-old daughters, backed their car out of the driveway, they hit a sinkhole that had been hidden by overflowing water.

The father said the family escaped the car and watched as the sinkhole grew.

Other families in the neighborhood were rushed out of their homes after the break in the 12-inch main caused water to spill everywhere.

"The cars have been pulled out of the sinkhole and we are in the process of repairing the broken pipe," Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman Lyn Riggins told ABC News.

Nearly 80 homes and businesses in the area were without water but should have water restored by Tuesday night, according to Riggins.

"The only family that is displaced is the family that lost their car and we are working with them to stay in a hotel," Riggins said.

The commission has responded to 400 water main breaks in the area this month alone, according to Riggins. There are normally around 1,700 water main breaks in the area annually.

"This break was likely caused by a combination of the pipe's age and the cold weather," Riggins said. "The pipe was 90 years old and fluctuation in temperature plays a big role in causing water main breaks."

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Blizzard 2015: 'Mass'-ive Storm Slams Coast, Nantucket


Kerry Kennedy Flynn / Nantucket (NANTUCKET, Mass.) -- Eastern Massachusetts and parts of Long Island, New York were the hardest hit by the blizzard that dumped nearly two feet of snow on New England -- causing heavy winds, coastal flooding and plunging all of Nantucket, Massachusetts into the darkness.

There are more than 25,000 power outages throughout the Northeast as of 9 a.m. Tuesday -- almost half of which are on Nantucket, where winds clocked in at 78 miles per hour, the strongest of the storm, and several feet of water flooded downtown.

There are no reports of injuries or major structural damage on the island, according to Nantucket Emergency Services Chief William Pittman.

In Marshfield, Massachusetts -- between Boston and Cape Cod -- there were striking images of homes underwater.

"We basically have the ocean in much of our town," the Marshfield Fire Department said.

The coastal town of Scituate also experienced significant flooding.

 

Snow, high winds & reduced visibility continue as @nationalgridus & @TownofNantucket work to restore power #Nantucket pic.twitter.com/rJyUmlas42

— Nantucket Police (@NantucketPolice) January 27, 2015

 

 

Significant flooding in the Francis St & Washington St area #Nantucket #AckJuno pic.twitter.com/ov3vR6SSVF

— Nantucket Police (@NantucketPolice) January 27, 2015

 

In Boston, as of 9 a.m. Tuesday, 12 inches of snow has hit the ground. Boston public schools are closed Tuesday and the city's Amtrak service to New York is suspended.

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Suspect in Georgia Craigslist Couple's Disappearance Due in Court


The Runion Family | Telfair County Sheriff's Office(McRAE, Ga.) -- The first court appearance is expected Tuesday morning in Telfair County, Georgia, for the key suspect in the disappearance and murder of a Georgia couple who had been responding to a Craigslist ad for a vintage car.

Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns, 28, is currently facing charges pertaining to making false statements to investigators and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception in connection with the disappearance of Bud Runion, 69, and his wife, June Runion, 66.

Autopsies are being performed Tuesday on two bodies, believed to belong to the couple. The bodies were found Monday in a wooded area near a pond where the Runions' missing SUV was discovered partially submerged, police said.

The Runions had been the subject of an extensive search after not returning from a trip last Thursday while responding to a Craigslist ad for a 1966 Mustang. The couple is from Marietta, Georgia, north of Atlanta, a two-hour drive from Telfair County. They had reportedly brought cash on the trip to buy what their daughters had described as their dream car.

Phone records show their last contact was with a cellphone that has been traced to Towns, Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson said, noting earlier that Towns had little or no criminal history.

Towns is the only person they are looking at in regard to the disappearance at this point, Steverson told reporters Monday.

Towns surrendered Monday morning, a day after being named a person of interest in the search. Additional charges could be filed against Towns as the sheriff's department continues its investigation.

"It's not the outcome we had hoped for, but obviously it's one we have to deal with," Steverson told reporters Monday after the bodies were found.

The couple's 2003 GMC Envoy was found submerged in a lake and the bodies were found at another location not far away, officials said.

The Runion family set up a Facebook page -- “Find Bud and June Runion” -- and it has about 100,000 supporters.

After the discoveries of the vehicle and bodies, supporters began leaving messages of shock and condolence.

"During this heartbreaking time I ask that you keep the family and friends in your thoughts and prayers," the couple's relatives wrote.

Officials with Craigslist referred to the safety page on the company’s website, which notes, “Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.”

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Florida Burglar Steals $4,000 Worth of Wings, Ribs and Fries


Jacksonville Sheriff's Office(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Police in Florida say they are looking for a thief who could be throwing the ultimate tailgate party with $4,000 worth of stolen chicken, ribs, fries and wings.

Police were dispatched to a burglary last Wednesday at Jerome Brown BBQ restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida.

An investigation revealed that an unknown suspect, caught on surveillance camera, had gained entry into the business by prying open the side door, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office stated on its website. The meat and an empty cash register worth $5,000 were taken, according to the police report obtained by ABC News, while the damage to the door frame is valued at $200.

"This guy may be getting ready to throw a Super Bowl Party! - Suspect Sought - Please Share!" the sheriff's Facebook post about the burglary stated.

The image released by the police shows a man wearing a skip cap and a sweatshirt.

 

Stole $4,000 worth of chicken, ribs, wings - Super Bowl Party? Suspect sought by #JSO #JAX https://t.co/AlkxYGa7tF pic.twitter.com/BaHtA69m5A

— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) January 27, 2015

 

“The incident that happened hurts everybody,” Ericka Morris, Jerome Brown BBQ's manager of 10 years, told ABC News. “It hurts employees, managers and the business owners. We wish whoever knows something about it, just turn them in. A close friend might know him. Just turn him in, because it’s hurting everybody.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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Armed Robbers Steal Gold from Wells Fargo Museum in San Francisco


KGO-TV(SAN FRANCISCO) — Three men wearing ski masks rammed their SUV into the lobby of the Wells Fargo Museum in San Francisco and stole gold nuggets, ABC's San Francisco affiliate KGO reported.

The museum on Montgomery Street is the site of the first Wells Fargo that opened in 1852. The property features an "impressive display of gold dust and ore from California's Gold Country and a special collection of Gold Rush letters carried by hundreds of express companies."

In view from the glass exterior of the building was a Wells Fargo stagecoach that "carried passengers and gold across the western plains."

Police were alerted about the robbery at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday morning. The suspects had assault weapons and held up the security guard, KGO reported.

The men then took off in another vehicle and left the SUV inside the bank, police said.

Authorities are looking for three men in a white Ford Taurus who were last seen heading eastbound across the Bay Bridge, according to KGO's report.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Diana Rodriguez told ABC News the bank is cooperating with the San Francisco Police Department's investigation.

"We’re disturbed this happened to the Wells Fargo History Museum, but are grateful no team member was harmed," she said in a statement to ABC News. "Additionally, the historic stagecoaches on site were not damaged. Rest assured, the museum will reopen, so it can continue to serve the thousands of visitors and Bay Area residents who visit it each year.”

The San Francisco Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.


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Tense Moments After Gunfire Erupts Outside City Council Meeting in Minnesota


ABC News(NEW HOPE, Minn.) — Two police officers were shot by a gunman outside a city council meeting in New Hope, Minnesota, on Monday, where a male suspect was shot and killed, police said.

The officers are recovering from their injuries, police told ABC affiliate KSTP.

Video from the council meeting features audible popping sounds -– followed by a man yelling at meeting attendees, leaving the council members ducking behind their desks.

Two officers were scheduled to be sworn in during the meeting, but it’s unclear whether they were the officers involved with the shooting.

There’s no word on what sparked the gunfire, and the suspect’s identity has not been released.

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Passengers Stranded at the Airport Due to Northeast Storm


File photo. Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A group of plane passengers were stranded at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport overnight, with the Northeast storm contributing to their canceled flight, Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.

Flight 004 was scheduled to depart at 6:30 p.m. Monday, but was forced to return to the terminal because of a passenger’s medical emergency, the airline said. The plane was de-iced, but a technical issue emerged.

 

Alright gonna try get some sleep! Glamorous. #vs004 #juno @VirginAtlantic pic.twitter.com/3ICCy06Wg5

— Felix Kunze (@felixkunze) January 27, 2015

 

After the issued was fixed, the airline said, the bad weather -- as well as the cabin crew running out of hours -- kept the aircraft from taking off. When a road travel ban went into effect at 11 p.m., the passengers were unable to leave the airport, forced to spend the night.

 

More raw unedited pics: passengers sleeping on floors. #VS004 #juno @VirginAtlantic pic.twitter.com/0ugGwgqjhm

— Felix Kunze (@felixkunze) January 27, 2015

 

The plane is now scheduled to take off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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Blizzard 2015: Travel Bans Being Lifted as Snowfall Totals Fall Short in Some Areas


Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Officials in the Northeast began to lift travel ban Tuesday morning, after much of the region got far less snowfall than feared.

New York City announced it was reopening roads and restarting Staten Island ferry service as of 7:30 a.m.

In addition, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted travel bans in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Westchester and Nassau counties, and said systems operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which includes the New York subway, were expected to gear up to resume service Tuesday morning.

Gov. Chris Christie said New Jersey was lifting its travel ban in all 21 counties.

[Blizzard 2015 Northeast Digs Out: Live Updates]

Mass transit systems had been shut down from New York City to Boston Tuesday morning, roads closed to traffic in all or parts of five states, and airlines canceled thousands of flights because of a Northeast storm.

But according to the National Weather Service, the storm was departing the region more quickly than expected, resulting in significantly less snowfall than some forecasters predicted.


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Snowfall totals already had reached as much as 17 inches in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with 15 inches reported in Islip, New York. Early snowfall totals in Boston (8 inches), New York (7 inches) and Philadelphia (2 inches) came up far short of predictions that called for more than two feet of snow.

"The science of forecasting storms, while continually improving, still can be subject to error, especially if we're on the edge of the heavy precipitation shield," the National Weather Service wrote. "Efforts, including research, are already underway to more easily communicate that forecast uncertainty."

The heaviest snowfall was expected to end at about 10 a.m. in New York City, with snow expected to continue in eastern Long Island and into Boston throughout the day. Parts of eastern New England into Maine could receive more than a foot of additional snow today.

The overnight hours brought some of the storm's most treacherous conditions, with wind gusts of up to 78 miles per hour reported on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. More than 7,000 flights were canceled because of the storm, which began as a clipper system that brought snow and slick roads to the Midwest on Sunday.

Before Cuomo announced the system's reopening, an MTA spokesman told ABC News that New York City's subway system would not be open for the morning rush. The subways and other forms of transportation were shut down at 11 p.m. Monday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a travel ban for 13 counties, including New York City and Long Island, prohibiting travel except for first responders and essential personnel.

"This is a serious situation," Cuomo said. "If you violate this state order, it's a possible misdemeanor. It's fines up to $300."

New York City's streets were coated in a slushy mix overnight, with few vehicles on the roads.

The New York City subway, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North and New Jersey Transit all reduced service dramatically leading up to the total closures at 11 p.m. NJ Transit was not expected to resume operations until Thursday.

According to the MTA, this is believed to be the first time the entire subway system as well as bridges and tunnels were shut down because of a winter storm. The last subway shutdown was when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012.

"This is not business as usual," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

A 17-year-old teen on Long Island died in a sledding accident, authorities said, marking the first death reported in the storm.

The accident happened at 10 p.m. Monday in the town of Huntington, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. The teen and two friends were taking turns snow-tubing when one of the teens lost control and struck a light pole, police said.

The teen was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

On Long Island, the snow was matched with heavy winds, making the conditions especially worrisome and limiting visibility.

In Connecticut, a statewide travel ban went into effect at 9 p.m. Monday.

"We encourage citizens to stay in place during the duration of the storm," Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and implemented a statewide travel ban beginning at midnight.

"Driving will be virtually impossible for extended periods of time starting late tonight," Baker said. "Please stay off the roads. Everyone should expect impassible roads starting at midnight tonight."

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced that it would be closed Tuesday. There was no timetable for when service will be restored. Additionally, Boston schools were to be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, as the region prepared for the worst of the snowfall.

In all, seven states -- including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Hampshire -- declared states of emergency.


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National Weather Service meteorologists downgraded a winter storm warning for the Philadelphia area to a winter storm advisory, with expected snow accumulation totals for the area dramatically decreased Tuesday morning.

In anticipation of the dangerous winter weather, several major U.S. airlines issued travel advisories, including Jet Blue, US Airways, American, Southwest and Delta.


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Many airlines also waived their flight change and cancellation fees for any flights that were scheduled to arrive in cities expected to be affected by the storm Monday evening and Tuesday.

Travelers can check with their specific airline for how to change or cancel their flight and get the latest updates on any travel advisories.


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Blizzard 2015: New York Teen Dead Following Sledding Accident


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 17-year-old teen on Long Island died in a sledding accident, authorities said, marking the first death reported in the blizzard striking the northeastern United States.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the accident happened at 10 p.m. Monday in the town of Huntington. The teen and two friends were taking turns snow-tubing when one of the teens lost control and struck a light pole, police said.

The teen was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

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Deflate-gate Investigation Won't Be Complete Before Super Bowl, Patriots Owner Hopes for Apology If No Wrongdoing Found


Patriots Owner Robert Kraft speaks to the media on Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) - An attorney hired by the NFL to investigate the Deflate-gate scandal acknowledged on Monday that the investigation would last beyond this Sunday's Super Bowl.

"We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation of the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship," Ted Wells said, regarding the game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts for which the Patriots allegedly provided 12 footballs, of which 11 were under-inflated by about two pounds per square inch.

"This work began last week, stretched through the weekend, and is proceeding expeditiously this week notwithstanding the Super Bowl." Wells said he expects his investigation to take "at least several more weeks," saying that "in the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded."

Wells also noted that the results of the investigation will be made public.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had previously told ESPN that he would not be interviewed regarding the incident until after the Super Bowl. Wells' comments represent the first confirmation that the investigation wouldn't be resolved before Sunday, however.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, however, spoke out on Monday, saying that he had spoken with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick about the matter. Both Brady and Belichick told Kraft that they had no knowledge of what happened. Kraft affirmed his belief in the two men, saying that he "has never known them to lie to him."

Kraft further expressed disappointment that the "reputations and integrity" of Brady and Belichick -- "and by association that of our team" -- has been called into question.

"If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs," Kraft said, "I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to Coach Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they have had to endure this past week."

 

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Flights Canceled, Travel Bans Enacted Ahead of Major Winter Storm


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As a massive blizzard prepares to engulf the Northeast, some 3,134 flights have been canceled as the storm is expected to bring two feet or more of snow from New Jersey to Maine.

Follow the storm's progress with the ABC Live Blog here.

An additional 4,281 flights have been cancelled for Tuesday and that number is expected to rise, according to FlightAware.com.

The greatest impacts from the storm, which began as a clipper system that brought snow and slick roads to the Midwest on Sunday, are expected Monday evening through Tuesday.

President Obama was briefed on the storm, and White House officials have been in touch with state and local officials on the eastern seaboard, according to White House Spokesman Josh Earnest.

FEMA also has assets in the region ready to assist, Earnest said.

Local leaders in the New York area were warning residents to stay off the roads and planned to shut down or curtail mass transit systems as the storm intensifies.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a travel ban for the entire state effective at 9 p.m. this evening.

"We encourage citizens to stay in place during the duration of the storm," Malloy said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced at separate briefings that the New York subway, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North and New Jersey Transit would all be reducing service dramatically leading up to total closures for the subway, LIRR and Metro North at 11 p.m. and for NJ Transit at 10 p.m. Subway and PATH train service were to be curtailed. The MTA said that Monday night was the first time snow has shut down the entire subway system.

Cuomo also said that all non-emergency vehicles would be banned from local, county and state roads in 13 counties including both counties of Long Island beginning at 11 p.m. The Port Authority has also announced that all bridges and tunnels would be closed as of 11 p.m. Monday.

"This is a serious situation," Cuomo said. "If you violate this state order, it's a possible misdemeanor. It's fines up to $300."

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio told residents not to underestimate the storm.

"Prepare for something worse than we have seen before. Prepare to be safe. Take every precaution," he said. "Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather."

All vehicles will be barred from New York City roads starting at 11 p.m., as part of an order that will stand until further notice, de Blasio said.

Ahead of the winter storm, New York City residents raced to stock up on food essentials.

De Blasio said crews were readying to keep streets clear, as officials prepare for what could be "one of the top two or three largest storms in the history of this city." He also warned that the storm "will hit very hard and very fast and people cannot be caught off guard."

New York City Public Schools will also be closed Tuesday to more than one million students.

Also on Monday night, Amtrak announced the cancellation of its service between New York and Boston for Tuesday. Service south of New York City will also be reduced, Amtrak said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency was also preparing for the storm.

"All of the things that come into play during these events, we want to make sure there are no surprises and everybody is on the same page," said MEMA spokesman Peter Judge.

Boston Public Schools are slated to be closed both Tuesday and Wednesday due to the storm.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and implemented a statewide travel ban beginning at midnight.

"Driving will be virtually impossible for extended periods of time starting late tonight," Baker said. "Please stay off the roads. Everyone should expect impassible roads starting at midnight tonight."

In Boston, which was expected to get two feet of snow, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced that it will run until about midnight and will be closed Tuesday

In all, seven states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- have declared states of emergency.

The highest snowfall amounts are currently expected between just east of New York City and Boston, where up to two feet of snow is expected.

New York City can expect 12-18 inches of snow, with cities southwest on I-95, like Philadelphia seeing 6-12 inches.

Winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories are in effect from the mid-Atlantic through New England, with blizzard watches posted for cities closer to the coast, including New York City and Boston, where blizzard conditions are expected during the height of the storm.

In anticipation of the dangerous winter weather, several major U.S. airlines have issued travel advisories, including Jet Blue, US Airways, American, Southwest and Delta.

Many airlines are also waiving their flight change and cancellation fees for any flights that are scheduled to arrive in cities expected to be affected by the storm this evening and Tuesday.

Travelers can check with their specific airline for how to change or cancel their flight and get the latest updates on any travel advisories.


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Former CIA Officer Convicted of Illegally Disclosing National Defense Information


Kuzma/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A former CIA officer was convicted of illegally disclosing national defense information on Monday.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling broke the law by providing information on an unidentified country's weapons capabilities to a reporter. FBI Director James Comey said that Sterling "violated his sworn duty to protect our nation's secrets and he betrayed our country."

Attorney General Eric Holder called the conviction "a just and appropriate outcome," adding that Sterling's actions "compromised operations undertaken in defense of America's national security" and "placed lives at risk."

According to evidence presented at trial, Sterling was employed by the CIA from May 1993 through January 2002. For a portion of that time, he was assigned to a classified clandestine operational program that was intended to undermine the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The DOJ says that Sterling "pursued administrative and civil actions against the CIA" in 2000. When the CIA refused to settle those actions on terms he deemed favorable, Sterling "disclosed information concerning the classified operational program and [a] human asset" to a New York Times reporter.

Sterling is set to face sentencing in April.

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Sixth Body Found at Annapolis, Maryland, Mansion Fire


Obtained by ABC News(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- A sixth body was recovered Monday from the scene of a mansion fire in Annapolis, Maryland, and all occupants of the home are now believed to be accounted for, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.

The first two bodies were found Jan. 21 and others were found on the following days.

Tech executive Don Pyle, his wife, Sandy Pyle, and four of their grandchildren were believed to have been inside the 16,000-square-foot mansion on Jan. 19 when the fire broke out, according to relatives and neighbors.

Operations at the scene will continue for two more days, the Fire Department said Monday.

Officials have not released a cause of the four-alarm blaze.

Relatives of the victims thanked well-wishers last week in a statement. Attributed to "the Boone and Pyle families," the statement referenced four children -- Alexis (Lexi) Boone, 8, Kaitlyn (Katie) Boone, 7, Charlotte Boone, 8, and Wesley (Wes) Boone, 6 -- and the Pyles, who records list as the mansion's owners.

"We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for the love and support being shared with us during this tragic event," the families said. "We are blessed that so many family, friends, and neighbors have come together for us in our time of need."

The statement added, "Our love for our family is boundless. Our loss demands time and quiet reflection to process these feelings. We ask that you respect our need for privacy."

”Life is fragile," the statement concluded. "Make time today to embrace your loved ones."

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Bodies, Vehicle Found in Georgia Case of Missing Craigslist Car Couple


The Runion Family | Telfair County Sheriff's Office(ATLANTA) -- Investigators have found the unidentified bodies of a male and a female, as well as an SUV owned by a Georgia couple who vanished last week while going to meet someone to buy a vintage car they found on Craigslist.

“It’s not the outcome we had hoped for, but obviously it’s one we have to deal with,” Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson told reporters.

Bud Runion, 69, and his wife, June, 66, disappeared Thursday, authorities said. The pair had posted an ad seeking to buy a vintage 1966 Ford Mustang convertible. Relatives said the Mustang was the couple’s dream car, one they’d wanted to buy since they were married decades ago.

The couple's 2003 GMC Envoy was found submerged in a lake, the Telfair County Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page. The unidentified bodies were found at another location, near property affiliated with the family of a suspect in the case who turned himself in to law enforcement earlier Monday, officials said.

That suspect, Ronnie “Jay” Towns, 28, was the alleged owner of the phone that last communicated with the Runions' phone, according to the sheriff's office.

The couple, after finding what they believed was a seller, reportedly set out on a 180-mile road trip from Marietta, Georgia, to McRae, Georgia.

The Runions haven't been heard from since, and never showed up to babysit their grandchildren Friday. Their three daughters had grown increasingly worried by their parents’ disappearance.

“Whoever has them, we hope that they will let them come home to us,” daughter Stephanie Bishop said. “We miss them.”

The Runion family has set up a Facebook page -- “Find Bud and June Runion” -- and it has about 100,000 supporters, a growing group desperately searching for the couple.

“We are unbelievably grateful for all of the media support and to each of you for sharing the page. We ask that you please keep sharing the page and spreading the word so we can find Bud and June Runion,” the couple's relatives wrote.

Officials with Craigslist referred to the safety page on the company’s website, which notes, “Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.”


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