* Records: Gang leader agrees to deal
HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) -- A man described by the U.S. attorney's office as a leader in the Latin Kings street gang in northwest Indiana has agreed to plead guilty to murder in the aid of racketeering, participating in racketeering activity and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Court documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond show Alexander "Pacman" Vargas of Highland has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the U.S. attorney recommending he receive the minimum applicable sentence. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
An indictment in November accused 19 people of more than 75 criminal acts, including a Chicago police officer and a former police officer. Prosecutors said the conspiracy stretched from northwest Indiana to Texas and into Mexico.
* IDEM worried about compliance
PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) -- The head of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is worried a violation of the Clean Air Act at an Illinois monitoring station could lead to three northwestern Indiana counties being designated as being in noncompliance.
The Times of Munster reports that IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly speaking Thursday in Portage said northwest Indiana was set to be in attainment for all pollutants for the first time ever. Then Gov. Mitch Daniels received notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about a violation in Illinois.
The states have 120 days to address the issue. If the EPA does not reverse its decision, IDEM will have to show that monitors in Lake, Porter and Jasper counties met the ozone standards for three years before being taken off the nonattainment list.
* Jasper sandwich wins the Super 46
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A bratwurst meal from a southern Indiana restaurant scored big in the state's tastiest sandwich contest heading into the Super Bowl.
A bratwurst sandwich from Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, 120 miles south of Indianapolis, beat a sandwich of smoked turkey, honey-baked ham and hickory-smoked bacon from Rock Cola 50s Café in Indianapolis to win the Super 46 Sandwich competition.
The contest highlighted local specialties for Super Bowl fans looking for options. The bratwurst sandwich took 63 percent of the vote in final balloting that lasted six days. The competition began with 46 regionally popular sandwiches.
Schnitzelbank owner Allen Hanselman says people traveled long distances to taste the sandwich. He says the restaurant went through 100 pounds of bratwurst each week in January, more than triple the normal amount.
* Union leader vows no disruptions
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The president of Indiana AFL-CIO is promising union members will not disrupt the Super Bowl festivities in Indianapolis after efforts to block right-to-work legislation failed.
Nancy Guyott said Thursday that organized labor will take its fight to the ballot box in November rather than Super Bowl celebrations in downtown Indianapolis this week.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels made Indiana the 23rd state to ban labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees following grueling Statehouse battles and massive union protests.
Union protesters had threatened work slowdowns and traffic jams as an estimated 150,000 tourists flood the city for the game Sunday. Protesters instead plan to hand out anti-right-to-work pamphlets in the Super Bowl village.
* Rep targets anti-I-69 group
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- An Indiana congressman is seeking an amendment to a federal bill that would target a Bloomington group's refusal to include part of the Evansville-to-Indianapolis Interstate 69 extension in its local transportation plan.
The amendment offered by Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon would give governors the authority to insert an interstate highway into a transportation improvement plan "without approval or endorsement" of a local Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization has refused to include I-69 in its area transportation plan. That step is needed for federal money to be used on a 1.75-mile stretch of I-69 near the city. The full highway will span 142 miles.
The Herald-Times reports a House committee was scheduled Thursday to consider Bucshon's amendment to the federal highway reauthorization bill.
* Former teacher pleads guilty
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- A former Allen County teacher accused of having sex with a teenage neighbor has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The Journal Gazette reports that 29-year-old Kristi Metzger of Hoagland, about 10 miles southeast of Fort Wayne, pleaded guilty Thursday in Allen Superior Court. She received a suspended sentence of 10 years with four years on probation. She also must register as a sex offender for 10 years.