Coroner ID’s trucker killed in fiery crash

A trucker killed after his trailer caught on fire and exploded last week following a hit-and-run accident has been identified as Hatem Zarrugh.

Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffrey Rouse released the name Wednesday.

Zarrugh, 38, was driving a trailer of diesel fuel on North Claiborne Avenue early Friday morning when a woman headed the wrong way on Port Street hit his truck, sending it into a concrete sign post at North Claiborne and Franklin avenues.

The cab burst into flames, and minutes later the tanker exploded.

Zarrugh was not able to free himself from the cab, and firefighters could not get close enough to rescue him.

Hours after the wreck, police booked Shannon Morris, 33, on a count of negligent homicide.

Miss. woman pleads guilty in N.O. fraud case

A Picayune, Mississippi, woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of bank fraud and wire fraud.

According to court documents, Kim Parish, 50, worked as an accountant for a New Orleans information technology firm and defrauded the business for four years through two schemes.

In one scheme, Parish issued more than 200 checks to herself and to “petty cash” by forging the signature of the business owner. In the other scheme, she improperly credited herself with bonus pay through the payroll system.

In all, she stole about $540,000 from the business.

She faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the bank fraud conviction and up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud conviction.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance is scheduled to sentence Parish on Jan. 21.

Coroner identifies man killed in St. Claude

The Orleans Parish coroner has identified a man shot to death Tuesday evening in the St. Claude neighborhood.

Alvin Grace, 29, was shot about 5:50 p.m. near Urquhart and Bartholomew streets.

Police have not identified a suspect or motive in his death.

Homicide Detective Joseph Jefferson is in charge of the investigation.

Alleged threats divert Miami-bound flight

Federal authorities are not pursuing charges against a woman who caused a plane to be diverted to Louis Armstrong International Airport on Monday morning after allegedly making a bomb threat.

Vivian Tu Bahn, a 31-year-old California woman, was detained by federal authorities and released after her flight from Houston to Miami was forced to land at the New Orleans airport about 9:15 a.m.

After an investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, it was determined the case did not warrant any federal charges, FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said. “The passengers, public and aircraft were never in danger,” Romig said.

Authorities did not release details on what Bahn said that caused the flight to be diverted.

Bahn was detained by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for evaluation after the federal investigation, Romig said. She was then transported to the Interim LSU Hospital on an order of protective custody, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.

Man driving golf cart booked with DWI

A man driving a golf cart across the Lapalco Bridge over the Harvey Canal on Monday evening was booked on charges including driving while intoxicated, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

Carey Dufrene, 45, of Belle Chasse, was spotted driving the cart about 6:30 p.m. Deputies stopped him and noted that he appeared to be intoxicated, said Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

He was booked with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated and possession of stolen property.

The cart was reported to have been taken without permission earlier in the day from the Timberlane Country Club in Gretna.

Felon found to be in possession of gun

New Orleans police arrested a 25-year-old man on several charges, including possession of a firearm by a felon.

Cedric Roberson Jr. was arrested about 8:20 p.m. Tuesday in the 3400 block of Garden Oaks Drive in Algiers after officers on foot patrol at the Jackson Landing apartments saw him with a bag of marijuana and placed him under arrest, police said.

Officers then found him to be in possession of a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.

Police booked Roberson with illegal carrying of a weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and illegal carrying of a weapon while in possession of narcotics.

N.O. man suspected in Slidell break-ins

A New Orleans man’s inability to catch a break led Slidell police to arrest the man they suspect in a break-in.

Officers were called to investigate a burglary at a home in the 1000 block of Tricia Drive in the Sterling Oaks subdivision on Tuesday afternoon. They found a door kicked in and the home in disarray.

They were called back to the address about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday when neighbors heard glass break.

Responding officers saw a silver Honda Civic stranded in the middle of the road.

It was driven by 19-year-old Andre Nguyen, of New Orleans, who said his car broke down as he was leaving a friend’s home.

That house was the one broken into the day before and where there was shattered glass from a car window.

Police said Nguyen’s story didn’t make sense to them, and he allegedly confessed to both crimes.

He told police that a dispute between him and the victim led to the incidents.

“The suspect’s bad luck, with his car breaking down, turned into good luck for Slidell Police,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said.

Nguyen remained behind bars Wednesday at the Slidell City Jail while awaiting transfer to the St. Tammany Parish Jail.

He was booked with two counts of simple burglary and one count of possession of burglary tools. He could face additional charges, police said.

Gunfire wounds two in separate shootings

Two men were wounded in separate shootings Wednesday evening in New Orleans, police said.

The first incident was reported about 5:30 p.m. at Jackson Avenue and South Saratoga Street. The victim was shot in the hand.

The second shooting was reported about 6 p.m. in the 1800 block of St. Maurice Avenue. Police provided no information about that victim or his condition.

Metairie man charged with filing false returns

A Metairie man was charged Wednesday with making false statements on his income tax returns.

Timothy Duckworth, 44, is accused of under-reporting his 2007 income by $610,496. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of three years and a $100,000 fine.

Smoke, fire damage Covington mobile home

Smoke and fire heavily damaged a Covington-area mobile home Wednesday.

The fire was reported about 1:30 p.m. at the Oak Villa Mobile Home Park in the 15000 block of Ronald Reagan Highway, according to St. Tammany Parish Fire Protection District No. 12.

The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes and was found to have begun in the kitchen. Investigators believe someone had left the stove on.

No one was home when the fire happened, but a small dog died from apparent smoke inhalation.

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