WEEK IN REVIEW: SOME OF THE TOP STORIES IN THE CAPITAL REGION

Section: Perspective,  Page: B2

Date: Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paterson names Gillibrand to fill U.S. Senate seat


Gov. David Paterson named Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, to New York's vacant U.S. Senate seat. She succeeds Hillary Clinton, who resigned after her appointment last week as secretary of state in the Obama administration.


Paterson said his selection had nothing to do with Gillibrand's gender or geography, factors that some observers say could strengthen the Democratic Party's statewide ticket in 2010, the year Paterson is expected to run for governor.


Paterson ended his two-month hunt for a new junior senator after considering several other candidates, including apparent one-time front-runner Caroline Kennedy, who dropped out of the race on Thursday.


Gillibrand will be the first upstater to represent New York in the senate since Charles E. Goodell of Jamestown was appointed to the post after Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968. Goodell held the seat for two years.


Bruno is indicted on federal felony charges


A federal grand jury indicted former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno on felony charges alleging he used his position to extract $3.2 million in private consulting fees from clients who sought to purchase his influence.


In response, Bruno said the U.S. Attorney's Office was "politicized," described the FBI as "overzealous" and labeled the eight-count indictment as "a three-year fishing expedition that . . . stinks."


The 79-year-old Republican faces corruption charges that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Albany and was released without bail.


In a 35-page indictment, grand jurors asked Bruno to forfeit much of his fortune and assets for his alleged crimes.


Three generations in D.C. for historic inauguration


The Rev. Bernie Johnson of Albany was in Washington D.C. Tuesday to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as president. His presence was part of three generations of his family carrying the memory of a fourth generation's dream coming true.


Bernie Johnson was there with his son, Marcelle, 20, and Bernie's father, the Rev. Samuel Johnson of Schenectday.


Bernie was also representing his grandfather, the late Rev. John "Jack" Johnson, who rescued more than 100 African-Americans from the oppressive sharecropping system in the South, driving them from Mississippi to Albany.


Speaking of his grandfather, Bernie John said Obama's inauguration was "the embodiment of what he spent a lot his life doing, a lot of the sacrifices he made."


Bernie Johnson said he "always believed and hoped that an African-American would become president, but he wasn't sure he would live to see it.


The I-90 gunman leaves a bewildering legacy


In the Capital Region, the memory of 22-year-old Darrel O. Brown conjures up thoughts of a wild Jan. 10 shootout on I-90 that ended when a State Police sharpshooter shot him. Brown died two days later.


In Hartford, Conn., Brown's residence, he was remembered quite differently.


"It just surprised the hell out of me, said Melanie Garcia, 26, who lived in the same apartment building as Brown. "I would never in a million years thought he would do something like that."


A person with knowledge of the investigation into the shootout said police believe Brown may have been involved in a robbery in Connecticut and was on the run. Brown, known in Hartford police files as "Mad Dog," was serving three years' probation in connection with a kidnapping, robbery and weapons arrest in 2005.


UAlbany student convicted in Iranian secret trial


A University at Albany public health doctoral student who had been accused of trying to overthrow the Iranian government has been convicted following a secret trial, according to the Physicians for Human Rights, which has been tracking the case.


Dr. Kamiar Alaei, a prominent AIDS expert from Iran, learned of his conviction Tuesday. He will serve three years in Tehran's Evin Prison, which was labeled "notorious" by the group His brother, Arash Alaei, also was convicted and sentenced to a six-year term.


Physicians for Human Rights spokesman Jonathan Hutson told the Times Union that the prosecutor "paraded them through a one-day trial on New Year's Eve without informing them of all the charges against them, and without disclosing all the evidence."


Kamiar Alaei had finished one year of his two-year UAlbany doctoral program.


-- Compiled by Paul Gibbons