Other items: Pope defrocks priest charged with abuse and kidnapping, murder suspect waives right.

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Six months after being driven from office by scandal, former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland pleaded guilty to a corruption charge yesterday, admitting he traded his office for more than $100,000 in flights to Las Vegas, Vermont vacations and repairs to his vacation cottage.

Rowland, 47, probably will receive 15 to 21 months in federal prison, lawyers said. He still could face state charges.

The once-popular, three-term Republican had maintained for months that the businessmen and cronies who lavished gifts on him had received nothing in exchange. With one word yesterday, he changed all that: “Guilty,” he told the court.

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Pope defrocks priest charged with abuse

A priest scheduled to go on trial Jan. 3 for child sexual abuse against a former altar boy who later shot him has been defrocked by Pope John Paul II.

Maurice Blackwell, 58, was shot by Dontee Stokes in May 2002, in the midst of the national scandal involving Catholic priests. In the aftermath, Baltimore prosecutors charged the priest with molesting Stokes.

The pope decided in October to dismiss Blackwell, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore received the official paperwork this month, an archdiocese spokesman said.

Kansas City, Kan.

Kidnapping, murder suspect waives right

A woman accused of killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb waived her right to a preliminary hearing yesterday and was being moved to federal custody in Missouri.

Federal prosecutors charged Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., with kidnapping resulting in death. She is accused of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, who was eight months pregnant, in her Skidmore, Mo., home Dec. 16, and cutting her baby from her womb.


Two men were convicted yesterday for their roles in the nation’s deadliest human-smuggling attempt — a journey that ended in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants in a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas. Victor Jesus Rodriguez and Fredy Giovanni Garcia-Tobar could face life in prison when sentenced in March.