Morning briefing

Mardi Gras beads clogging basins

NEW ORLEANS — Let the good times roll — just not into New Orleans’ storm drains.

That’s the plea from city officials.

Local news outlets report cleaning crews have sucked out more than 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from catch basins on along a five-block stretch of St. Charles Avenue downtown, a popular parade route.

Department of Public Works Interim Director Dani Galloway said Thursday that the four-month emergency program had cleaned 15,000 catch basins altogether as of Wednesday, removing roughly 7.2 million pounds of debris.

It’s part of a $22 million contract to tackle city’s drainage system in response to heavy August flooding.

Galloway asked residents to step up and clear neighborhood catch basins, and said the city is looking at installing temporary “gutter buddies.”

‘In Need of Kidney Shirt’ goes viral

NEW YORK — A New Jersey father of five whose “In Need Of Kidney” T-shirt went viral has received a life-saving transplant from a complete stranger.

Robert Leibowitz says Friday that he’s “walking on clouds” after undergoing the procedure in a New York hospital last week.

The 60-year-old Leibowitz says his advertising background and the roughly decade-long waiting list for a new kidney led him to make the shirt and wear it during a vacation to Disney World last summer.

A picture of the shirt took off on social media and soon Leibowitz received hundreds of calls from potential donors.

Finally, a man from Indiana named Richie Sully was found to be a perfect match after multiple rounds of medical tests. Sully says it was a “no brainer” to donate the organ.

Clerk charged in lottery ticket theft

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A New Jersey convenience store employee has been charged with stealing a $1 million winning lottery ticket from its rightful owner.

Rayhan Sorwar was charged Friday with theft, conspiracy and attempted money laundering.

The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office says a customer presented a winning scratch-off lottery ticket in September at a convenience store in Edison. Prosecutors allege Sorwar took the ticket but instead of a claim form gave the customer two other tickets, calling those her winnings.

Police say an attempt to cash the winning ticket at the lottery commission in Lawrenceville prompted an investigation. Officials say the rightful owner has been paid her winnings.

A listed phone number for Sorwar can’t be found. Prosecutors say it’s unclear if Sorwar has an attorney who could comment for him.

Pa. teens facing criminal charges

BUTLER, Pa. — Authorities say three teenagers face criminal charges after intentionally exposing a school classmate with a severe pineapple allergy to the fruit.

Police in Butler Township allege that a 14-year-old high-fived the other 14-year-old girl to expose her to the fruit during lunch period Dec. 13 at Butler Intermediate High School. The victim was taken by ambulance to Butler Memorial Hospital where she was treated and released.

Chief John Hays said the girl’s allergy was well-known and pineapple isn’t served during that period but someone had brought it from home.

The suspect was charged in juvenile court with felony aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, and other offenses. Two other girls, age 13 and 14, face charges including criminal conspiracy.

Attorney Mike Santicola calls the case a prank and suggests that the defendants were overcharged.

By The Associated Press

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