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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Blast probe results to be announced

DANVERS

The state fire marshal, Danvers officials, and members of the US Chemical Safety Board will announce the results of two separate investigations next week into an explosion at an ink-and-paint factory that nearly leveled Danversport. State and local officials will hold a press conference Monday at Danvers Fire Headquarters. The US Chemical Safety Board will announce their findings at a community meeting in Danvers Wednesday. Federal officials examining the incident have reached the preliminary conclusion that a buildup of chemical vapors could be responsible for the explosion.

CAMBRIDGE

Teen pleads not guilty in fatal stabbing
A Medford teenager pleaded not guilty yesterday in the slaying of a 21-year-old man who prosecutors said was stabbed during a fight in January. Gershon Douglas, 18, was ordered held without bail after his arraignment in Middlesex Superior Court. He faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of James Bottiglio, who was found lying in a courtyard Jan. 21 outside the defendant's mother's home on Foster Court, according to the Middlesex district attorney's office. Bottiglio was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital. Douglas is scheduled to appear again in court on May 25.

Man sentenced for car insurance fraud
A Worcester man was sentenced to two to three years in state prison after pleading guilty to nine counts of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone's office said yesterday. According to officials, Eric Bonnette, 23, was involved with two others in a 2004 fraud scheme. In three instances, Bonnette helped stage car accidents to reap insurance benefits, the district attorney's office said in a statement. In each staged accident, Bonnette borrowed a vehicle from a friend and purposely crashed it into another vehicle. At least two insurance companies paid a total of $63,000 to cover the false claims. Bonnette will also serve two years on probation for the crimes, which took place in Lowell, Tyngsborough, and Bedford.

QUINCY

Rape reported at elderly housing complex
Police officers were stationed yesterday at an elderly housing complex in Quincy after an attacker raped a woman Thursday night. "They're obviously disturbed by the situation," said Detective Lieutenant Patrick Glynn. "This is very unusual; there has not been any such recent activity" near the School Street apartments. An intruder entered the woman's first-floor apartment through a sliding glass door, Glynn said. The man restrained the woman and attacked her. After the intruder fled at 8 p.m., the victim called police. She was taken to Quincy Medical Center, treated, and released. The woman described the assailant as a thin, dark-skinned man with short black curly hair. He is 25 to 30 years old and stood about six feet tall. He was wearing a white shirt, maroon jacket, blue jeans, and black shoes, Glynn said.

LEWISTON, Maine

Farm manager says atheism led to firing
An investigator for the Maine Human Rights Commission has found reasonable grounds for a manager's allegation that he was fired from his job at DeCoster farms because he's an atheist. Cacy Cantwell says Austin "Jack" DeCoster told him before he was fired that they might have to part ways because Cantwell didn't believe in God. The backing of the investigator bolsters Cantwell's case, which is expected to go before the full commission, said Patricia Ryan, executive director. Cantwell was working for Maine Contract Farming, a DeCoster subsidiary where he was hired as a manager in 2003. DeCoster is the region's largest brown egg producer. The official reason for Cantwell's firing in November 2006 was "poor job performance," but the commission's investigator, Barbara Lelli, said that Cantwell had received no written warnings about his performance. (AP)

PORTLAND, Maine

Baldacci blasts public utilities rule change
Governor John Baldacci joined the Maine Public Utilities Commission yesterday in protesting a rule change put before federal regulators that would impose another electric rate increase in northern Maine. The proposal would mean a 7.6 percent increase for residents served by the Maine Public Service Co. Residents were hit with a 45 percent increase in January. Baldacci contends the reason for the increase is an administrative charge that will do nothing to improve reliability of the system as it is intended to do. (AP)

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