National briefs: Five Madoff aides guilty

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NEW YORK -- Five former aides to Bernard Madoff who spent decades working for his firm were found guilty of helping run the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, a $17.5 billion fraud exposed by the 2008 financial crisis.

The three men and two women, hired by Madoff with little financial experience, were convicted on all counts. The defendants failed to persuade a federal jury in Manhattan they were ignorant of the fraud despite being part of the inner circle at his New York-based firm.

Monday's verdict, after five months of testimony and four days of deliberations, is a victory for the U.S. government, coming in the only criminal trial brought in the five years since the scam was revealed. Madoff, 75 and serving 150 years in a North Carolina prison, refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

Spill cleanup progresses

GALVESTON, Texas -- As workers in bright yellow suits picked quarter-sized "tar balls" out of the sand along Galveston Bay on Monday, strong incoming tides kept washing more ashore.

Elsewhere, crews lined up miles of oil booms to keep oil away from the shoreline and bird habitats, two days after a collision in the Houston Ship Channel dumped as many as 170,000 gallons of oil from a barge into the water along the Gulf Coast and shut down one of the nation's busiest seaports.

The Coast Guard said it hoped to have the channel open to barge traffic as quickly as possible, but that more tests were needed to confirm the water and the vessels traveling through the channel were free of oil.

Ukraine measure advances

WASHINGTON -- The Senate agreed to advance legislation to aid Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for violence and intimidation as Russia took control of Crimea.

The Senate voted, 78-17, with 60 required, to move forward to debate on the measure, clearing the way to begin considering amendments as soon as today.

San Diego police audited

SAN DIEGO -- The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to review the management practices of the San Diego Police Department with a goal of helping the department avoid officer misconduct and restore its reputation as an "innovative, progressive, trusted force," officials announced Monday.

The audit comes amid recent allegations that two officers assaulted women while on duty. In the last four years there have been about 15 cases of misconduct of various kinds among the department's 1,856 officers, officials said.

Natural gas exports OK'd

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Energy Department gave conditional authorization Monday for liquefied natural gas to be exported from a proposed terminal in Coos Bay, on the Oregon coast.

Jordan Cove LNG terminal is the seventh project to get such authorization, although it may be years before exports begin. The project must go through an environmental review and final regulatory approval.

9/11 museum to open

NEW YORK -- A long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site on May 21, officials announced Monday.

The opening will follow a May 15 ceremony and a six-day dedication period during which the museum will be open around the clock for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers, and others directly affected by the 2001 attacks, said Joe Daniels, president of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The planned ticket price of $24 has angered some Sept. 11 family members.

-- Compiled from news services

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