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NATIONAL BRIEFS


WASHINGTON: 530 accused of mortgage fraud

Federal investigators have charged 530 people with defrauding more than 73,000 desperate homeowners around the country who fell behind on mortgage payments, leaving them vulnerable to con artists offering to help them avoid foreclosure. At a news conference Tuesday on the results of a yearlong probe, Attorney General Eric Holder and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan estimated the homeowners lost more than $1 billion in the fraud schemes. According to court records in the 285 criminal cases brought in the investigation, the struggling homeowners would pay substantial fees with promises that so-called investors would purchase the victims' mortgages. Other homeowners paid hefty fees in exchange for what turned out to be false promises of more favorable mortgage terms being negotiated for them.


NEW MEXICO: 25-mph wind stalls sky diver

For the second day, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner aborted his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall because of the wind, postponing his quest to become the world's first supersonic sky diver until at least Thursday. As he sat Tuesday morning in the pressurized capsule waiting for a 55-story, ultrathin helium balloon to fill and carry him into the stratosphere, a 25-mph gust rushed across the airfield in Roswell. The wind spun the still-inflating balloon as if it were a giant plastic grocery bag, raising concerns at mission control about whether it was damaged. The delicate balloon can take off only if winds are 2 mph or less on the ground.


PENNSYLVANIA: This is a holdup. Give me $1

A man tried to rob a bank of $1 because he hoped to be sent to a federal prison nearby, police said. Jeffrey McMullen, 50, handed notes Friday to two tellers at an AmeriServ bank in Northern Cambria, demanding a dollar, according to a police complaint reported by The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown. The tellers thought it was a joke, police said. They could not say why McMullen wanted to be taken to a prison in central Pennsylvania.

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