New England in brief

Farms in 12 counties to get disaster relief

October 6, 2009

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Governor Deval Patrick has announced that 12 Massachusetts counties that suffered agricultural losses due to this summer’s abnormally cool and rainy weather have been declared federal disaster areas. Patrick said yesterday that the disaster declaration will give farmers in those counties access to loans and other assistance. Farms in Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties are now eligible for loans and other assistance from the US Farm Service Agency. Farms in Barnstable and Suffolk counties, which were declared contiguous disaster areas, also are eligible for loan assistance. (AP)

Aide pleads guilty to child sex charges
A former teacher’s aide at a Winchester middle school pleaded guilty yesterday to child rape, child enticement, and child pornography, , said Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone. Christopher French, 29, of Winchester, was charged with one count of child rape, two counts of child enticement, four counts of posing and disseminating visual material of a child in a state of nudity, four counts of possession of child pornography, and other charges, according to Leone’s office. He was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 2 1/2 years each at the Billerica House of Correction and five years of probation. French was a special education teacher’s aide at McCall Middle School and coached soccer, the statement from Leone said. Some of his six underage female victims were students at the school; others he met through social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook.

Man to be charged in woman’s killing
An Attleboro man was arrested in Providence yesterday in connection with the slaying of a 67-year-old Attleboro woman, Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter said. Aaron Carney, 30, will be arraigned in Providence District Court today on a charge of being a fugitive from justice. After his extradition, Carney will face a murder charge in Attleboro District Court, said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Sutter. Police found Elizabeth Fontaine’s body around noon yesterday after a 911 call from a person in the home. The woman was apparently the victim of a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene, Miliote said. An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday.

Funds embezzled from steamship agency
A Mashpee woman has been charged with embezzling more than $80,000 from the Woods Hole Steamship Authority. Falmouth police said yesterday that Armine Sabatini, 45, a former bookkeeper for the Steamship Authority, was arrested in the embezzlement of funds that could exceed $100,000. The case is under investigation by the Falmouth police and FBI. No further information was available. (AP)

Weather and burger break Big E record
Good weather helpd draw a record 1.26 million people to the Big E this year, but the fair’s president says a calorie-packed cheeseburger also played a part. Wayne McCary said more than 16,000 Craz-E Burgers were sold during the 17-day fair that ended Sunday. The burger, which has bacon and cheese as toppings and is served between two halves of a grilled glazed doughnut, helped to draw the curious to the fair, officially called the Eastern States Exposition. McCary said favorable weather helped break the previous attendance record of 1.25 million set in 1998. (AP)

Harvard’s Gates wins literary award
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has won one of the most prestigious New England literary awards. Gates accepted the 2009 Sarah Josepha Hale Award Sunday at the Newport Opera House. The award has been presented annually since 1956 in recognition of a distinguished body of work in literature and letters. Gates is the first African-American writer to receive the award. The award is given to literary figures associated primarily with New England through their work. Previous recipients include Robert Frost, Arthur Miller, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. (AP)