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These stories were published Monday, Sept. 1, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 172
Jo Stuart
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When New Hampshire tour operator Joel L. Dulude was last in Costa Rica, he found ‘this refreshing waterfall and a group of very friendly Ticos enjoying the water.’ The scene was in Manuel Antonio Park and the shot was made in October with a Fujifilm FinePix 4700 digital camera. Dulude will be back in February looking for scenes and subjects to enter in the 2004 A.M. Costa Rica photo contest.

Photo by Joel L. Dulude
Check out our Sports photos HERE!
Scenic photos HERE! 
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and People pixs HERE!
Bello Horizonte residents meet on crime woes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents of the Los Pinares section of Bello Horizonte, Escazú, are sick of being victims of a quartet of robbers who have been stalking the area in a car.

So the residents have invited representatives of police agencies to a 7 p.m. meeting tonight at the Centro Comunal Las Pinares to discuss crime prevention strategies.

In addition, residents have been handing out flyers in the up-scale neighborhood to alert residents to the meeting and also to the danger.

Public buses have been held up and even domestic workers have been roughed up and held up at the local bus stop. One woman and her 14-year-old daughter narrowly avoided a robbery when crooks blocked the road with a 

car last week. The woman evade them by quickly putting her own car into reverse and fleeing, according to Donna Potuzak, one of the organizers.

"It’s been absolutely scary down here," said Mrs. Potuzak, who lives just 50 meters, some 160 feet, from the bus stop where two maids have been robbed. One stickup happened at 6 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, said Mrs. Potuzak. She said victims had described four men in a gray car that had tinted windows.

Mrs. Potuzak, a Canadian, has lived here two years. She explained that the area is at a high elevation, and the bus stop is the highest in Bello Horizonte, a section on the east side of Escazú. The area had been relatively crime-free.

Information is available at 228-0305.

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Man wanted in $1.5 million fraud is caught here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man sought for a series of credit card frauds in Los Angles came into police hands Saturday after officials staked out his house in Curridabat.

He was identified as Omar Adalberto Arroyo Acevedo, 30, a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico who had been living here under the name of a Costa Rican.

Officials said he operated a music school in La Uruca. The Los Angles, Calif., police department said the man was wanted for criminal threat, grand theft, identity theft, credit card fraud, false credit application, and perjury. He faces extradition. Those charges were filed in December 2001, police there said.

The 6-foot, 2-inch Arroyo operated a number of children’s music schools in the Southern California area, said Los Angeles police, adding that Arroyo obtained customer’s financial information, including credit card numbers, which he later used
LAPD photo

to make numerous unauthorized charges and false credit applications creating a loss to victims in excess of $500,000.

Arroyo’s last known locations in the United States were Miami and Clearwater, Fla. Investigators said that the man has lived here about a year.

Unsolved Mysteries, a popular U.S. television show featuring the late Robert Stack as narrator, said Arroyo targeted mostly working class Spanish speakers.

The show said Arroyo was in business with Mario Yunis, a Costa Rican who now is believed to be in prison in the United States. Some families who signed their children up for lessons later found charges as high as $20,000 on their credit cards and that someone had sought and received additional credit cards in their names. The total loss may be as high was $1.5 million, said the television show.

Arroyo and Yunis lived in Woodland Hills, Calif. Police there said that Yunis used part of the money obtained through the school to undergo a sex change operation and emerged as Delia Leon. The pair lived together as a family with Arroyo’s two children by a previous marriage, police said.

Arroyo used some of the income to cut a salsa CD under the name Luis Omar, said Unsolved Mysteries.

The arrest here was made by the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad, agents of the International Police Agency and the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Local officials are investigating the way that Arroyo assumed the identify of Yunis while in Costa Rica.

Special month starts
today with fiesta

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is Sept. 1, the start of the Mes de la Patria for Costa Ricans.

That is  why the sound of drummers practicing pervades the air. The school bands are getting ready for Sept. 15, independence day.

But some are getting a jump on independence with a celebration of the month today at 10:30 a.m. in the Plaza de la Cultura.

There will be folk dances, patriotic songs and the start of circulating some million copies of the Diario Oficial la Gaceta, the government newspaper of record that will contain patriotic symbols, said an announcement from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The event is scheduled for two hours under the direction of Belisario Solano, vice minister of Gobernación. The theme of the event is "Mes de la Patria: Vivan Siempre el Trabajo y la Paz:" the month of the fatherland: Work and peace forever.

Body in Barranca
is kidnap victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police found the body Friday afternoon in Barranca, Puntarenas, and initially estimated the victim’s age at 30.

But instead of a victim of a boating or swimming accident, the case turned out to be a kidnapping gone sour. Or so it seems.

The victim is Jeffry Cascante Abarca, 18, and the son of an Alajuelita family. He went out for the night Thursday. Later that night his father, got a telephone call from a man demanding some $30,000 for ransom. But the caller seemed nervous.

Police said the caller told the father to recover his son’s car from a parking lot in Multiplaza Mall. That was the last the family heard until police made the discovery Friday afternoon.

Would-be kidnapper
faces lesser charge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What happened in Santo Domingo de Heredia about 6 a.m. Thursday was not exactly a kidnapping, according to prosecutors. 

A man grabbed a girl, 15, with his arm and put the other arm on her belt, said a release from the Poder Judicial. But the girl screamed and frustrated the crime, so the event was not a kidnapping, declared the Fiscalía Adjunta de Heredia in bringing a complaint of depravation of liberty against a man identified with the last names of Páez Cambronero.

Consequently, because the charge is not as serious, the suspect has been set free with the requirement that he sign in with the prosecutor’s office every 15 days and promise not to approach the girl or go near her home, according to a court spokesperson.

Police said the incident in Santo Domingo de Heredia took place when the girl was leaving a bread store to return to her home. Police said then that her assailant grabbed her and tried to pull her in a waiting car. There has been no indication that the man knew the girl.

An uncle and another adult intervened to rescue the girl. The assailant fled but left behind his car, which contained children’s books and toys.

San José-Tilaran bus
plunge kills passenger

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man died and at least 19 persons suffered injuries about 9:30 a.m. Sunday when a San José-bound bus went off the road, plunged down an embankment and rolled over in Esparza.

The dead man was identified as Rafael Mauricio Segura Soto, 25, a passenger on the bus, according to Fuerza Pública officers.

The vehicle was coming from Tilaran, a town on the northwest side of Lake Arenal. The driver was identified as Luis Emilio Araya Pérez.

The Fuerza Pública and the Policía de Tránsito said that 30 persons were aboard. Of the 19 injured, six went to Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas.

Those at the scene estimated that the bus plunged some 25 meters, about 80 feet, before coming to rest with the wheels in the air. 

In another fatal accident, about 9 p.m. Saturday Arsenio Campos Abarca, 51, drove his car off an embankment at Quebrada Seca de San Carlos and died as a result of the crash.

Murdered officer
buried Saturday 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública buried a police officer Saturday. The man, Vílmar Zúñiga Calvo, 41, was stabbed while he was on duty Friday night in the Sagrada Familia section of San José.

A stabbing victim tried to grab the officer’s gun while he was on duty in the small police station erected there. The officer fought back and the man plunged a knife into his side, said investigators.

The man, Marvin Umaña Fernández, 39, also died, either from a suicide or after having been shot by the dying officer. The policeman had 16 years of service.

RACSA cuts rates
mostly for business

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the government Internet company known as RACSA, said it would reduce business rates and also some rates for private users.

The high velocity international cable rates declined from 20 to 60 percent as of today, the company said. National business connection rates were cut about 55 percent, the company said in an announcement Friday.

In addition, prepaid card access to the Internet provider and the 900 en line telephone service also is being reduced from 10 to 12.5 percent, the company said.

The announcement said the rate reductions were taken by the board of directors but did not give a clear reason. However, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, RACSA’s parent company, also is getting in the commercial internet business and is planning to compete aggressively with RACSA.

Peso laundering ring
brings 28 arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MIAMI, Fla. — U.S. authorities have arrested dozens of people in the United States and Colombia suspected of taking part in a major drug money laundering scheme. 

Prosecutors here say those arrested are part of a group that converted some $30 million in "dirty" money from illegal drug transactions into "clean" Colombian pesos over the past four years. 

Authorities arrested 28 of the 36 people named in a federal indictment over the past several days, some in Colombia, the others in the United States. Among those arrested in Florida was Ivan Henao, identified as the leader of the operation. 

The U.S. Attorney in Miami, Marcos Jimenez, says the case strikes at what he called "one of the very top targets" in the narcotics trafficking world.

New police station
opened in Alajuelita

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police officials inaugurated a new building for the delegation in Alajuelita Saturday. The structure cost about 28 million colons (about $70,000) and provides sleeping quarters for police as well as office space, interview rooms and cooking facilities.

The planning and construction of the 273-meter-square facility in the Canton of Alajuelita took three years.

Girl stops bullet
with her head

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Yorlin  Andrea Ortiz  Flores, 8, has good reason to have a headache. The child was outside her home in the Sagrada Familia, neighborhood Saturday night about 9:45 p.m. when a stray bullet bounced off a wall and struck her in the head.

Amazingly, the child was awake and alert when taken by private car to the Hospital  de  Niños with her mother, Lilliana  Flores Coronado, said the Fuerza Pública.

Witnesses told police that a private guard nearby had discharged his revolver three times for reasons unknown, and investigators are assuming that one of these bullets struck the child.

New hurricane now
on move in Atlantic

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. weather forecasters say the third Atlantic hurricane of the season is increasing in strength as it moves westward across the Atlantic Ocean.

The latest report from the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Fabian now has sustained winds of about 160 kms. per hour (about 100 mph), with stronger gusts. The report says additional strengthening is possible during the next 24 hours.

Hurricane Fabian is not yet a threat to any land area. The storm still is more than 1,300 kms. (about 800 miles) east of the Lesser Antilles, the islands in the southeastern Caribbean. It is moving to the west-northwest at about 22 kms. an hour. Direction forecasters say they expect it will continue for the next three days. The speed is about 14 mph.
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This NASA montage shows three globe images of Earth as viewed from points in space centered over the Americas, Africa and the western Pacific. 
NASA photo montage
NASA makes better topographic maps of Earth
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A brand new look and understanding of the place called Earth. That's what viewers get in a complete global topographic data set generated by NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Produced by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, the global data set, called "SRTM30," greatly improves maps of Earth's land mass located between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south of the equator. That's roughly from the southern tip of Greenland to below the southern tip of South America. 

Until now, the primary source of digital elevation data for scientists and analysts involved in global studies has been the U.S. Geological Survey's "GTOPO30," published in 1996. That work consists of elevation measurements spaced every 30-arc-seconds. An arc-second is a measure of latitude and longitude used by geographers that corresponds to about 928 meters, or 1,496 feet at the equator. This allows identification of features roughly the size of Disneyland in California. The SRTM30 map matches the GTOPO30 resolution, but with its seamless quality, the map represents a leap in global-scale accuracy.

"SRTM30 is a powerful demonstration of the benefits which accrue from NASA's human space flight program and satellite radar mapping technology," said John LaBrecque, manager, Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Program, National Areonautics and Space Administration Headquarters here.

"The quality of previous maps of the Earth varied considerably, because they were compiled from various data gathered by generations of explorers and surveyors. In some places these maps are inaccurate. Using NASA technology, six Space Shuttle astronauts mapped 80 percent of Earth's land surface in just 10 days to produce the first 3-D map of the Earth's surface at a known and uniform accuracy," he said. 

The need for accurate topographic maps is everywhere from planning a hike to building a new highway. Knowing the exact shape and location of mountain peaks and river valleys is as important to the safe and efficient flight of aircraft as it is to the management of water resources and the control of forest fires. 

Newly released images, representing the new SRTM30 data products, depict Earth in two ways: as an image with all the continents shown (a common map-making method known as a Mercator projection); and as three globe images of Earth as viewed from points in space centered over the Americas, Africa and the western Pacific. 

Two visualization methods were combined to produce the images: shading and color-coding of topographic height. The shaded image was derived by computing topographic slope in the northwest-southeast direction, so northwest slopes appear bright and southeast slopes appear dark. Color-coding depicts the lowest elevations in green, rising through yellow and tan, to white (highest).

The new images are available on the JPL Planetary Photojournal at this site.

Colombian hostage seeks military action to free her
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — A former presidential candidate kidnapped by Marxist rebels last year is calling for a military operation to free her from her jungle prison. 

Ingrid Betancourt made the request in a recent videotape released by her rebel captors. The tape was broadcast Saturday by the television station Noticias Uno, but it is not clear when the tape was made or why the rebels chose to release it. 

Ms. Betancourt, appearing thin and haggard, said she favors military action to rescue her, but that the decision for such a risky mission must come from President Alvaro Uribe. 

The Colombian leader says any rescue operation would be handled "prudently" to guarantee Ms. Betancourt's life. Ms. Betancourt's family has opposed any attempt to rescue her by force. 

On the tape, Ms. Betancourt also asks the Uribe government to swap jailed rebels for soldiers and police officers being held by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC. 

But, she urges officials not to exchange the guerrillas for civilian captives, saying that doing so would put more innocent Colombians at risk of being dragged into the country's ongoing civil war. Ms. Betancourt and her campaign manager were kidnapped in February 2002 in southern Colombia. 

The guerrillas are holding hundreds of Colombian military, political and civilian hostages. 

Also in rebel custody are three U.S. Defense Department contractors whose surveillance plane 

crash-landed in southern Colombia six months ago while they were checking out crops used to make cocaine. Last week, U.S. officials said the FBI recently acquired a videotape of the three men in the first evidence that they are alive. 

Officials also said an independent journalist who has not been identified obtained the tape from the rebels and showed it to the hostages' family members in the United States. It was not clear when that tape was made. 

The U.S. State Department has confirmed the existence of the tape and says Washington holds the guerrillas responsible for the safety and well-being of the hostages.

More bones found
in Guatemalan dig

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

COMALAPA, Guatemala — Forensic investigators in Guatemala have found the remains of 10 people apparently killed during the country's 36-year civil war. 

Guatemala's Forensic Anthropology Foundation said Saturday it had unearthed the bones on the grounds of a former military base near this western village.

The investigation had been at the request of the National Commission of Guatemalan Widows. The widows group says as many as 200 bodies may be buried at the military compound. 

Thousands of Mayan indians were killed during the country's civil war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against a series of governments.

Figure in Anderson Ark case gets 21 months in jail
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

BOSTON, Mass. —  A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for conspiring to launder money and laundering money — most of it through an illegal offshore trust program that was also used by clients to move and conceal millions of dollars overseas in an effort to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

The convicted man is Richard Castellini, 36, of Bridgeton, N.J. He was associated with Keith Anderson, who was extradicted from Costa Rica to face related charges.

The announcement of the conviction was made by  U. S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Joseph A. Galasso, special agent in charge of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Castellini was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to 21 months' incarceration, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Castellini was convicted by a trial jury more than a year ago on July 19 of money laundering and money laundering conspiracy.

In March of 2001, an indictment was returned charging Castellini and five others with money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and international money laundering. The defendants were charged in connection with the concealment of assets and false statements relative to bankruptcy and bank fraud. 

The following co-defendants were previously convicted on the same charges: Wayne Anderson, 63, of Squaw Valley, Calif.; Karolyn Grosnickle, 58, of Hoodsport, Wash.; Richard Marks, 57, of Los Osos, Calif. and Michael Gonet, 49, of Stow, Mass. The last defendant, Keith Anderson, 61, of Villa Punta Canon, Santa Ana, Costa Rica awaits trial.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Anderson Ark and Associates is a Costa Rican offshore trust program that provides wealthy clients from the United States with the mechanism to move funds, on which they were obligated to pay taxes, offshore to Costa Rican bank accounts set up to make it appear that the funds were neither owned nor controlled by the clients. 

Anderson Ark clients in fact owned and controlled the accounts. Anderson Ark helped the clients repatriate the money in various ways, thus giving them the use of the untaxed money. For example, clients were able to avoid U.S. taxes (and launder funds) by deducting fictitious consulting invoices as business expenses on U.S. income tax returns.

The evidence at trial established that from approximately March 1999 through at least December 2000, Castellini assisted an individual who, unbeknownst to him, was an undercover IRS agent, to launder money that he represented as concealed assets from a bankruptcy court. 

The undercover agent told Castellini that he was seeking to conceal the proceeds of the fraud in connection with a bankruptcy so that he could 

invest them in a new business venture. In various stages, Castellini and the other co-defendants moved the money either overseas, or through bank accounts in the United States and, after deducting a substantial fee for laundering the funds, returned it to bank accounts controlled by the undercover agent. Certain defendants told the undercover agent that they had laundered assets for other individuals in the past.

In a separate trial in California of two of the co-defendants on related charges, it was established that Anderson Ark was owned and controlled by Wayne and Keith Anderson. Grosnickle managed the day-to-day operation in the United States under the direction of the Andersons. 

Anderson Ark "information officers" were responsible for the initial contact with new clients and assisted these clients with the paperwork necessary to set up offshore corporations in Costa Rica. Anderson Ark accountants, including Marks, also helped those clients who desired more complex and secretive offshore companies to set up entities called "Complex Business Organizations" through Anderson Ark. 

Clients were then able to use these Complex Business Organizations to move legally and illegally obtained funds. They would do so by using fraudulent consulting invoices issued by Anderson Ark which they used to deduct the payments as business expenses on their personal income tax returns. Anderson Ark charged fees for setting up the offshore corporations as well as additional fees for moving the funds and creating the fake tax deductions. Castellini, a customer of AA, and Gonet, a trust promoter, referred clients to Anderson Ark and, for a fee, assisted in laundering funds.

In the related California case, Richard Marks was sentenced to 81 months in prison. Wayne Anderson was sentenced to 59 months in prison. Wayne Anderson was also ordered to forfeit an additional $100,000 and a new motor home that were seized in the course of the investigation. Both defendants were convicted on May 31, 2002, of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, following a 14-day jury trial. A third defendant, Karolyn Grosnickle, 59, of Hoodsport, Wash., pleaded guilty to money laundering prior to trial, and was sentenced to 26 months in prison.

The final defendant in the case, Keith Anderson, 61, having been extradited from Costa Rica last December, is in custody and will face charges in this case in California as well as separate tax evasion conspiracy charges that are pending in federal district court in Seattle, Wash.

In another related case, Roosevelt L. Drummer, of Sacramento, and another man, Roy Lenz, of Washington State, both accountants, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington to charges of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, in connection with their work as accountants with Anderson's Ark & Associates. They are both awaiting sentencing. 

Rancho Dundee runaway had more problems in U.S.
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. teenager who became the Rancho Dundee poster boy when he got lost and found in San Pedro, got into more trouble when he returned home.

The boy is Cody Crawford of the U.S. state of Oregon who was featured in the local press when he escaped from a government shelter after the Orotina-based Rancho Dundee was raided and the operation shut down.

Crawford was taken in by a Tico family when the father found him wandering in the streets at night last May. Eventually the youth returned home to Oregon.

But soon he was back in juvenile court there, According to the News-Register of McMinnville, Ore., the youth tested positive for marijuana use and engaged in a brawl with officials that led to 

charges of assault on a public safety official and resisting arrest July 19.

The youth originally was in court on drug, burglary and parole violation offenses, but the judge let him go to Costa Rica at his mother’s request as part of bootstrap program. He was at Rancho Dundee when Costa Rican officials raided the place in May and effectively freed some 200 troubled teens.

The newspaper said that Defense lawyer Lindsay Soto later told Judge John Collins that his 16-year-old client is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of what he endured in Costa Rica. He urged Collins to let the boy go home with his mother, Robin Crawford, the paper said.

Crawford claims he was beaten and tortured at the ranch, said the newspaper, adding that the youth has joined in a class-action lawsuit against operator Narvin Lichfield and the the firm that  ran Dundee Ranch.

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