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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Immigrant sentenced in bribery case

BOSTON

A federal judge sentenced an undocumented immigrant who operated an Allston cleaning company to five years in prison for harboring other undocumented immigrants and bribing an immigration official. US District Judge Morris E. Lasker also ordered Jose Neto, 40, to forfeit to the government a multifamily residence he owns in Allston. Neto, who employed 50 people at Spectro Cleaning Services, offered a customs agent $20,000 in September 2004 to get green cards for himself and his wife, then paid him another $147,000 for green cards for friends and to obtain the release of others from federal custody.

Troubled charter school gets reprieve
Uphams Corner Charter School in Boston will have a second chance to improve, despite posting low MCAS scores the past five years. The state Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to renew the school's five-year charter on the condition that academic achievement improve significantly over the next two years. The board could revoke the charter at any time. The vote was against Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll's earlier recommendation to close the school, where 70 percent of sixth- and eighth graders-flunked the math MCAS last spring.

BRA testimony in mosque case postponed
The Boston Redevelopment Authority got a reprieve, at least temporarily, from having officials testify under oath about its land deal for a mosque and also will not have to produce documents in the case until a BRA motion to dismiss the case has been ruled on, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel ruled yesterday. Four high-ranking officials of the redevelopment agency had been subpoenaed to give depositions, beginning Monday, in a public records case brought by the David Project, a Jewish advocacy group. The organization has questioned the price at which the BRA sold city-owned land at Roxbury Crossing to the Islamic Society of Boston for the mosque project. Van Gestel set oral arguments for Feb. 23.

In effort to reach out, Patrick to podcast
Starting Friday, people will be able to listen to the behind-the-scenes experiences of the state's new governor in his own voice. Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday he plans to launch a podcast that will be available on the state website, www.mass.gov, and will include policy announcements and commentaries on a variety of issues. Patrick will record the 3- to 5-minute messages with the help of some aides, said Cyndi Roy , a spokeswoman for the governor's office. Patrick is excited about the possibility of new ways to connect with constituents, but he admits that he is "pretty primitive" when it comes to using technology himself, Roy said.

MEDFORD

Man held in slaying after a fight
A Medford man is to be arraigned Friday on murder charges in the stabbing death of James Bottiglio , 21, also of Medford, following an autopsy by the state medical examiner. Gershon Douglas , 18, was charged with trespassing after Medford police arrested him early Sunday outside his mother's apartment in LaPrise Village , where Bottiglio was found with multiple stab wounds. Bottiglio died at Massachusetts General Hospital.

CAMBRIDGE

Retrial begins for suspect in child deaths
A man who said during his first trial that he was insane when he slashed and shot to death three of his girlfriend's four children, actually didn't kill anyone, his lawyer said yesterday on the first day of the man's retrial. Vuthy Seng was convicted in 1997 of three counts of first-degree murder for killing three of his girlfriend's children and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. In 2002, the Supreme Judicial Court overturned Seng's conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that a Khmer translation of his Miranda rights was deficient. (AP)

CANTON

Blue Hills ski area closed over insurance
The Blue Hills ski area in suburban Boston has shut down indefinitely while the private operator of the state-owned facility scrambles to find new liability insurance coverage. The ski area hopes to have coverage in a matter of days, said a spokesman for Ragged Mountain Resort, which operates Blue Hills. A lawsuit by an injured skier required the ski area's former insurer to put aside $200,000 to meet a possible claim, spokesman Mark Pins told the Boston Herald. When a new insurer took over the ski area's policy, it opted not to renew the liability insurance. The state will not allow the ski area to operate without coverage. (AP)

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