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ATF fires 2 agents in Waco raid

Two federal agents who led the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian headquarters in Texas were fired on Friday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which accused them of poor judgment and lying to investigators, a spokeswoman for the agents said.

Charles Sarabyn, who was based in Miami from 1982 to 1989, and Phillip Chojnacki denied the accusations and said they would appeal.

"This is the beginning of the truth," Sarabyn said in a statement released by his sister, B. J. Bond, in Fort Lauderdale. ATF had forbidden the men to make public statements while employed by the agency.

Four agents were killed and two wounded on Feb. 28, 1993, when about 80 ATF agents stormed a compound near Waco where cult leader David Koresh was suspected to have a large cache of illegal firearms. An ensuing 51-day standoff culminated in the death of Koresh and at least 78 of his followers in an inferno that engulfed the compound.

Sarabyn was the overall tactical coordinator, and Chojnacki was in charge of the initial raid.

In documents obtained by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, ATF officials said Sarabyn and Chojnacki knew Koresh had been tipped off to the imminent raid, but went ahead with it anyway.

Smokers right:

class-action suit

MIAMI _ A lawsuit charging that major cigarette makers concealed the addictive nature of nicotine in their products was expanded Friday to cover all U.S. smokers who couldn't quit smoking.

The legal action seeks a stunning $200-billion in compensatory and punitive damages from tobacco companies in a suit hinging on addiction claims, rather than physical harm, the avenue pursued in past cases.

Dade Circuit Judge Harold Solomon ruled from the bench that he would certify the lawsuit by six smokers as a class-action suit covering people who have died or been ill from smoking-related diseases.

The defendants include R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, Lorillard, American Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson and Liggett Group.

Smokers right:

class-action suit

MIAMI _ Legions of smokers who believe they became sick because they couldn't quit would be allowed to join a lawsuit against cigarette makers and other industry groups under an unprecedented ruling Friday by a Dade County circuit judge.

The lawsuit, filed in May by Miami lawyer Stanley Rosenblatt on behalf of six South Florida residents, is the first of 75 such cases nationwide to be granted class-action status. Rosenblatt's suit alleges that cigarette makers are addicting their customers.

Judge Harold Solomon granted the motion without comment Friday. He said he would sign a written order by Monday.

The defendants include R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, Lorillard, American Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson and Liggett Group.

Big Apple bananas

over $70-million pot

NEW YORK _ Here in the Financial District, where fortunes are made and lost daily, they make money the old fashioned way, with shrewdness, patience and savvy.

Friday, they stood in line up to an hour for a chance to make it a different way. They were joined by mothers, messengers, janitors and tourists. Forget Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his daring political transformation. Forget all the anguished talk about the city's budget deficit. Forget, even, crime.


All across this city and state, lines have formed for the minuscule chance to win the mammoth prize of more than $70-million in the state lottery jackpot, to be drawn Saturday night.

"It's the only thing anybody is talking about," said Chuck Brittain, 51, a security guard at the American Stock Exchange. "If everybody who says they are going to win wins, this town will be empty on Monday morning."

5 minutes later,

jury says no way

MINEOLA, N.Y. _ A man charged with impersonating his twin in order to have sex with the brother's girlfriend was cleared by a jury that deliberated just five minutes.

Lamont Hough, 24, of Roosevelt, was found innocent Thursday of criminal impersonation.

Hough admitted having sex with the woman last year but said he had not pretended to be his brother Lenny.

The woman said she called police when she realized that the man she had had sex with was not her boyfriend.

Defense attorney Peter Borgiorno said Lamont and Lenny have different personalities.

Hough originally was charged with sexual misconduct, but Judge John Galasso threw out the charge, ruling that if a woman consents to sex _ even if that consent is gained through fraud _ no sexual misconduct has occurred.