GALUPO PLEADS GUILTY TO MISDEMEANORS:
A plea deal accepted today means a Marietta doctor accused of writing illegal prescriptions likely won't spend any time in jail.
Dr. Pedrito Galupo, 73, of 501 Fifth St., had faced 40 years in prison on 12 felony counts of trafficking in drugs after his July 8 at his office at 119 Maple St. In Marietta Municipal Court today, Galupo pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of attempted illegal processing of drug documents.
Officers said Galupo had been charging $50 a visit and prescribing painkillers without examining patients. The doctor had denied any wrongdoing and filed a $3.75 million lawsuit against the Washington County Sheriff's Office and others after he claimed they improperly persuaded him to surrender his medical license during an interrogation.
Galupo's attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, said the doctor was reluctant to accept the offer.
"The only thing he did wrong was to believe some undercover officers who went to his office and told him they were in pain," Baumgartel said.
The plea deal leaves Galupo on probation for the next two years. If he follows the terms and conditions of probation - which will be set by the court's probation department - he will not have to serve any jail time. A 12-month sentence that was imposed was suspended for completion of probation.
Also, Galupo must not practice medicine again and is prohibited from proceeding with the civil lawsuit, which was recently dismissed, but could have been refiled.
OBAMA EASES CUBA RESTRICTIONS:
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is allowing Americans to make unlimited trips and money transfers to family in Cuba and easing other restrictions Monday to usher in a new era of openness toward the island nation ruled by communists for 50 years.
The White House made the formal announcement during presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs' daily briefing with reporters - in both English and Spanish.
"The president would like to see greater freedom for the Cuban people. There are actions that he can and has taken today to open up the flow of information to provide some important steps to help that," Gibbs said.
But Gibbs said Obama is only one part of the equation, suggesting that Cuba must do more as well.
"There are some steps that the Cuban government can and must take," Gibbs said.
With the changes, Obama aims to lessen Cubans' dependence on the Castro regime, hoping that will lead them to demand progress on political freedoms, the spokesman said. About 1.5 million Americans have relatives on the island nation that turned to communist rule in 1959 when Fidel Castro seized control.
LAWYERS GETTING LAID OFF TOO:
WASHINGTON (AP) - In America, there are always people to sue or contracts to negotiate, right? Apparently there aren't enough.
The recession is taking a steep toll on the legal profession, an industry long seen as immune from the ups and downs of the economy. Trying to weather the financial crisis, the nation's largest law firms are laying off attorneys and delaying the hiring of others.
More than 3,000 lawyers have been laid off in the first three months of 2009.
"A lot of people go into the law because it's one of those professions where you're always going to have work. There aren't typically big layoffs," said Samuel Smith of Charlotte, N.C. "Realistically, I don't think people saw this coming."
Last summer Smith was working at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft while flirting with job opportunities at a few other firms. But in August, Smith was laid off as the economy soured. The firms that earlier had been interested were now reluctant to hire.
"I'm still looking for jobs," said Smith, who launched www.rateapartner.com, a Web site that links to legal business news articles and allows lawyers and clients to anonymously rate law firm partners.
Just how bad is it out there?
The Labor Department said the number of unemployed lawyers jumped 66 percent last year to a 10-year high of 20,000.
The first time this year that three consecutive business days passed without one of the nation's top law firms announcing job cuts came in mid-March, according to the Web site Lawshucks.com. They have counted 3,149 lawyer layoffs - just in the big firms, just in the first three months of the year.