Damage estimate grows

Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday raised the estimate of New Jersey’s costs of recovering and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy to nearly $37 billion and said the state would seek federal aid to cover most of the expenses. Christie announced the revised total Wednesday to include $7.4 billion to cover mitigation, protection and prevention of future disasters. A preliminary total of $29.4 billion announced last week covers repairs and response. The total amount is greater than the state’s entire yearly budget.


Prison inmates released

Nearly 200 inmates have been released from prison and their cases put on hold as a result of a Massachusetts state drug testing lab scandal. Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan told lawmakers at a public hearing Wednesday that while investigators are looking at about 34,000 cases overall, 195 individuals have been released, 79 in Boston. Heffernan said their release doesn’t mean they have been exonerated. She didn’t say what kinds of crimes they had been convicted of, but said they could be under alternative forms of supervision as they await future court hearings to resolve their cases. An aide to Heffernan later declined to release any information about the past convictions, citing the state’s criminal offender record law. A handful of those released have since been re-arrested.


Millionaire faces charges

Stanley Marsh 3, the eccentric millionaire artist best known for his Cadillac Ranch art display along an interstate in the Texas Panhandle, was charged Wednesday with 11 felony counts of molesting children. The 74-year-old turned himself in at a county jail after an arrest warrant was issued accusing him of molesting two teenagers in 2010. His arrest follows the filing of several lawsuits against him for allegedly paying 10 teens for sex acts. Marsh is probably best known for planting 10 brightly painted Cadillacs nose down along Interstate 40 in the Panhandle in the 1970s. The cars, ranging from a 1948 club coupe to a 1963 sedan and gathered from junkyards, private collectors and used car lots, have since become a pop art landmark.

Compiled from wire reports.