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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Paving firm is convicted of $1.8m fraud

BOSTON

One of the state's largest paving companies, P.A. Landers Inc., and two of its top officials, Preston A. Landers, 56, of Hanover and Gregory R. Keelan, 49, of Pembroke were convicted yesterday by a federal jury of defrauding the state and several towns of $1.8 million by sending fake and inflated invoices for asphalt used on government-funded projects. The jury heard evidence that a hidden device installed at the company's Plymouth plant overrode a computerized weighing system and created fake and inflated weight tickets between 1996 and 2003. The company issued a statement yesterday saying, "We were disappointed with the outcome, but want to assure our customers and vendors that we have implemented a system of controls and compliance procedures."

Police probing infant's death in day care
Police were probing the death of an infant girl yesterday at a Roxbury day-care facility. There were no signs of trauma, and the death did not appear to be suspicious, according to a high ranking law enforcement official. Police said they are investigating the death as they would any other unattended death in the city.

Fight in audience delays Pops concert
Concert-goers and Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart were caught off-guard last night when a fight broke out on opening night at Symphony Hall. Television video of the fight showed two men struggling in the balcony, one having his shirt pulled off, as several people stood around them. Lockhart briefly halted the performance, which featured Ben Folds, while the men were escorted out. Boston police spokesman David Estrada said police officers on security detail at the hall escorted the men off the property, and no charges were filed. No injuries were reported, he said. A Boston Symphony spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment. (AP)

Closing statements made in slaying retrial
Lawyers gave closing statements yesterday in the trial of Joseph Downey, who faces second-degree murder charges in connection with a South Boston bar fight 10 years ago. Downey, 42, and his brother Daniel Downey, 39, both of South Boston, were convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 in the death of James Murphy, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney. They were granted new trials in 2006 when the Massachusetts Appeals Courts found that their lawyers had worn concealed microphones for a British television documentary, compromising their counsel. Daniel Downey then pleaded guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for restraining Murphy while Joseph Downey allegedly stabbed him. According to testimony presented at the current trial, Joseph Downey stabbed Murphy, 30, twice in the chest, puncturing his heart and liver. The slaying occurred at Kelly's Cork and Bull in March 1997.

State in group tracking greenhouse gases
Massachusetts joined 31 other states yesterday as founding members of The Climate Registry, which will track emissions associated with global warming, said Ian Bowles, the Commonwealth's secretary of energy and environmental affairs. The nonprofit organization will measure, track, and verify emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, Bowles said.

REVERE

Firm is cited after 6-acre brush fire
Fire officials accused a food company and its subcontractor of starting a 6-acre brush fire yesterday near Wonderland Greyhound Park that damaged a trailer and temporarily shut down MBTA commuter rail service on the Newburyport line between Chelsea and Lynn. Revere Fire Chief Gene Doherty said the subcontractor for Aramark foods was cutting up old and discarded equipment with a welding torch when sparks ignited the blaze, which sent flames 30 to 40 feet in the air. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze.

ORLEANS

Lawyer convicted of defrauding client
A disbarred Cape Cod lawyer has been found guilty of fraud and was ordered by a judge to pay a former client $2.8 million. Judge H. Gregory Williams ruled Tuesday that Richard Birchall hid the money in a network of accounts, partnerships, and trusts during the past 10 years. Williams ordered Birchall held until he comes up with the money. Suzanne D'Amour, 46, of Brewster, sued him in 2000, alleging he invested insurance money from her late husband's estate and never accounted for it. (AP)

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