State Briefs

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2002

Bush lauds Stevens at senator's fund-raiser

WASHINGTON - President Bush praised U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens as a straightforward senator, a great supporter of the nation's military and a member of the "greatest generation" at a campaign fund-raiser Thursday night.

"As we say down home, there's no bull about him," Bush said. "That's good, that's good for the Senate, it's good for the people of Alaska and more important, it's good for the United States of America."

Stevens already has about $1.5 million in his campaign bank account. Tim McKeever, Stevens' campaign treasurer, said the event was expected to raise an additional $650,000.

Stevens faces Mike Aubrey of Sutton in the Republican primary. The filing deadline is June 1. Aubrey, health education director for the Chickaloon village, has not run for or held elective office and has not started raising money.

Democrat Frank Vondersaar of Homer and Libertarian Len Karpinski of Anchorage have also filed.

About 400 people planned to attend the fund-raiser, held on the rooftop of the Jones Day law firm's offices just across Louisiana Avenue from the Capitol grounds. They included a variety of Washington, D.C., lobbyists and strategists, Alaska business people, members of Congress and, as the president noted, one other George W. - Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch.

Bush arrived on schedule and spoke for just more than 15 minutes, touching on several Alaska issues.

"In order to protect our nation and our friends from blackmail from attack by a nation that harbors weapons of mass destruction, this good country must develop a missile defense system," Bush said. "Ted Stevens understands that."

Thieves foiled in theft of Eagle River ATM

ANCHORAGE - Thieves tried and failed Thursday for the second time this year to steal an automatic teller machine at the Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union in Eagle River.

Two male burglars pried open the bottom of the cash machine in the entryway of the credit union. They cut the bolts attaching the freestanding machine to the floor and dragged it outside.

An alarm went off at 4:18 a.m. and Anchorage police officers responded to the credit union in three minutes, police said.

"The burglars apparently heard the sirens of the approaching patrol car," according to a police press release. "They were dragging the ATM up a slight embankment to a waiting car but abandoned the machine and fled the area."

The FBI is investigating the attempted theft, the fourth in Alaska reported to the bureau this year, said special agent Eric Gonzalez.

Last week thieves in Willow ripped the ATM from the wall of the credit union's branch there, causing substantial damage to the entryway. The machine, cash still inside, was found abandoned about half a mile away in a stolen pickup.

Eight arrested in Anchorage purse-snatching case

ANCHORAGE - Two adults and six juveniles were arrested Thursday afternoon in a purse snatching that sent a 42-year-old victim to the hospital.

"They said they were out rolling around and they needed gas money, so they decided to rob this lady," said Anchorage Police Detective Scott Lofthouse.

Witnesses reported a man got out of a 1998 Ford Expedition in the parking lot of a Fred Meyer store and assaulted the unidentified victim. The incident was captured on the store's security camera.

"Looking at the video, it looked like a linebacker tackling a running back," Lofthouse said. "It was a full out, smashed-her-to-the-ground type of tackle."

The victim suffered cuts, bruises and a bump to her head, he said. She was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

The suspects drove to Mountain View, followed by a witness. Several officers responded and arrested the eight.

Lofthouse identified Jon Tufue, 21, as the alleged tackler. He has been charged with robbery and theft. Karen Lauati, 18, faces the same charges.

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