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NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF

Basketball gets a shot at state sport

A bill on Governor Mitt Romney's desk would make basketball the official state sport, despite a strong defense thrown up by Boston Red Sox fans. ``We had to work on a few people," said Representative Patricia A. Walrath, a Stow Democrat and a cosponsor of the bill passed late Monday night before the Legislature adjourned for the year. Romney -- a season ticket holder at Fenway Park -- said yesterday he wasn't sure when he would sign the measure, but he added, ``I'm sure it will dribble out at some point." Most historians of the game agree that basketball was invented by James A. Naismith in 1891 in Springfield. The idea to give the game a special designation in Massachusetts came from fourth-grade students at the Joseph P. Mulready School in Hudson. (AP)

2 guilty as felons in possession of a gun
Two Boston men were sentenced to federal prison yesterday after being convicted of being felons in possession of firearms, the US attorney's office announced. David V. Seymour, 31, of Roxbury was sentenced to 15 years, and Antoine Quarles Combs, 31, of Dorchester was sentenced to 20 years. In August 2003, Seymour ran from police and tried to toss a gun. He later confessed and was convicted last year, authorities said. A jury convicted Combs in March of possessing a gun, pointing it at officers, and fighting to keep hold of the weapon during a May 2005 arrest. Combs also was found in posession of three bags of marijuana. Both sentences are to be followed by three years of supervised release, authorities said.

PLYMOUTH

Man, 57, is killed in rollover crash
A Plymouth man died yesterday morning when his car rolled over several times near the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, police said. The motorist, Ralph E. Hunnefeld, 57, crashed his car near Rocky Hill Road at about 5:20 a.m., according to Captain Michael Belmont of the Plymouth police. ``It appears that he may have had some health-related issues," Belmont said. The accident is under investigation, he said. Hunnefeld worked at the power plant, Belmont said.

MIAMI

Ex-FBI agent's murder trial delayed
A Miami judge agreed yesterday to delay the murder trial of retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. until March 19 to give lawyers more time to prepare. Connolly was slated to stand trial this month on charges that he teamed up with longtime informants James ``Whitey" Bulger and Stephen ``The Rifleman" Flemmi, to orchestrate the 1982 murder in Florida of John B. Callahan, a Winchester financier with ties to Bulger's gang. Connolly, 66, is serving a 10-year prison term for his 2002 conviction on federal racketeering and obstruction-of-justice charges for protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution and warning Bulger to flee. Bulger, wanted on murder charges in 19 slayings, has been a fugitive since 1995, and Flemmi is serving a life sentence for 10 murders.

SPRINGFIELD

Gay-rights lobbyist quits post after arrest
A longtime gay-rights lobbyist and former member of the governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth has stepped down from both posts following his arrest on charges he solicited sex from a police officer posing as a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. William G. Conley of Springfield resigned Tuesday from his job as a lobbyist for the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. He left his seat on the gay youth commission in early July. The governor disbanded the commission July 21. Conley, 59, was arrested July 8 after he posted an ad on Craigslist.org offering to help students with college expenses. When a UMass police officer responded to the ad posing as a student, Conley allegedly offered to pay for sex, police said. Conley declined to comment.

MASSACHUSETTS

Authorities probe 2 swimming deaths
Authorities are investigating the apparently swimming-related deaths yesterday of a 79-year-old man in Salem and a 63-year-old woman in Falmouth. Jerzy Ziolek was found by his two granddaughters at 12:15 p.m. at the bottom of a built-in swimming pool at the home his son and daughter-in-law had just moved into on Salem's Belleview Road. He died a short time later at Salem Hospital. Mary F. Davilas, 63, of North Easton had been swimming with a friend on Coonamessett Circle in Falmouth's Hatchville section when she was found floating in a pool after 5 p.m. yesterday. She later died at Falmouth Hospital.

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