S&P: Kansas Budget Issues 'Likely to Persist' After Tax Hike
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A major financial rating agency says a structural imbalance in Kansas's budget is "likely to persist" even after the state increased income taxes. S&P Global Ratings said in a report this week that while the state boosted its revenues, it also increased spending for the next two years. S&P also said the state still is diverting money from highway projects to sustain other spending and is not fully funding contributions to public pensions. S&P did not change its negative credit outlook for Kansas. Legislators enacted the tax increase over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's veto to raise $1.2 billion over two years. The new law rolls back past tax cuts Brownback championed. The S&P report came a month after Moody's Investors Service upgraded the state's credit outlook to stable from negative.
Senator Moran Faces Tough Health Care Questions in Kansas Town Hall
PALCO, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran faced tough questions about Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday at a town hall meeting in his home county. Moran drew some applause when he said he opposed the version of the bill written by Senate Republican leaders because of its impact on rural health care. "I will choose country over party. I will choose Kansans over party," Moran told an overflow crowd of about 150 people spilling outside a room with a capacity of less than half that in Palco, population 300, and about 230 miles west of Topeka. Some audience members drew applause for advocating government-run health care like the Medicare program for the elderly. The event was held in Rooks County where President Donald Trump won 84 percent of the vote last year. Moran grew up in nearby Plainville.
Former State Representative Jan Pauls of Hutchinson Dies
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Former state Representative Jan Pauls has died at the age of 64. Pauls, of Hutchinson, died Wednesday at St. Francis Hospital. A cause of death was not immediately available. Pauls, a former judge and attorney, served in the Kansas Legislature beginning in 1991. She represented the 102nd district as a Democrat until switching to the Republican party in 2014 to advocate for conservative social issues. Pauls lost her bid for re-election last November to Democrat Patsy Terrell, who died last month near the end of her first legislative session. Funeral arrangements for Pauls are pending.
Prairie Village Democrat Announces Run for 3rd District Congressional Seat
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A teacher from northeast Kansas says he will run for the Democratic nomination for a Kansas congressional seat currently held by Republican Representative Kevin Yoder. Tom Niermann, a 49-year-old teacher from Prairie Village, announced his candidacy Thursday for the 3rd District seat held by Yoder since 2011. He said in a statement that his goal will be to consider every day what's best for Kansans. The Kansas City Star reports Niermann was raised in Wichita and taught in the public schools there and in Lawrence. He joins a crowded field of Democrats seeking to run against Yoder. Other candidates include Andrea Ramsey, Reggie Marselus and Chris Haulmark. Jay Sidie, the Mission Woods businessman who lost to Yoder in November, also intends to run again.
Kobach Appeals Fine to District Judge in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has now appealed to a federal district judge a $1,000 fine levied against him for misleading the court. His court filing late Wednesday evening came hours after U.S. Magistrate Judge James O'Hara refused to reconsider the fine and an order requiring him to submit to a deposition by the American Civil Liberties Union. The judge had fined the Kansas Republican for misrepresenting the contents of documents he took into a November meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump and a separate draft amendment to the National Voter Registration. Kobach argued the lack of clarity in his court filing was an honest mistake caused by last-minute editing. He also contended the magistrate did not consider whether the deposition was intended to harass, annoy or embarrass him.
Kansas Highway Patrol Helicopter Makes Hard Landing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two Kansas Highway Patrol troopers escaped serious injury when the patrol helicopter they were occupying made a hard landing at an airport in Topeka. The patrol says the accident happened early this (FRI) morning when the Bell 407 helicopter's tail rotor hit a hangar at Philip Billard Municipal Airport. The pilot, 54-year old patrol Captain Gregory Kyser, was taken to a hospital for observation and possible treatment. A passenger, 36-year old state trooper Ryan Nolte, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Man Who Mailed Death Threats to Federal Judges in Kansas City Gets 7 Years
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who admitted mailing death threats to three federal judges in Kansas City, Missouri, while imprisoned in Indiana has been sentenced to seven years behind bars without parole. Forty-year-old Bruce DeWayne Jensen was sentenced Thursday in Kansas City. He pleaded guilty in March to three counts of mailing threatening communications. Jensen admitted that in November 2014 and in August of last year, he sent letters to three judges threatening to kill them and their families. At the time, Jensen was incarcerated at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Jensen has several previous convictions for similar threats.
Juvenile Charged in Topeka Shooting Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Charges have been filed against a 17-year-old from Topeka after a fatal shooting last month in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. Shawnee County District Attorney Michael Kagay said Thursday the suspect has been charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery. KSNT reports that Kagay is seeking authorization to prosecute the suspect as an adult. The suspect is charged in the death of 18-year-old Justice Mitchell on June 26 in west Topeka.
Georgia Man Pleads Guilty in Scheme that Cost Sedgwick County
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Georgia man pleaded guilty in a fraud scheme that cost Sedgwick County more than $566,000. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a statement Thursday that 49-year-old George James, of Brookhaven, Georgia, pleaded guilty to wire fraud. James said someone called only A.H., asked to deposit some money into James's account. In October, Sedgwick County received an email from someone claiming to be from Cornejo and Sons asking the county to send payments to a new bank account. The county sent about $566,000 to his James' account in Georgia before realizing that Cornejo didn't request the account change. James transferred the money to bank accounts in China and Germany and spent some of it. County officials said in April most of the lost money had not been recovered.
Kansas City Man Sentenced in 2016 Fatal Crash
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas City man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for a collision that killed a 72-year-old man last August. The Kansas City Star reports 40-year-old Gabriel Cornelius was sentenced after pleading guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter. Police say Cornelius was speeding and driving under the influence when his pickup collided with Gary Dramshek's car in south Kansas City. Cornelius was driving behind Dramshek and when Dramshek turned left, Cornelius' vehicle struck Dramshek's car, which went off the road and hit a gas main.
Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder in Kansas
PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A man suspected of killing and wounding people in Mississippi, New Mexico and Kansas in February has pleaded guilty to charges arising from the Kansas case. Alex Bridges Deaton, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, pleaded guilty Friday to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery stemming from the shooting of a convenience store clerk in Pratt in March. Two other charges were dropped. Sentencing is scheduled for October 16. Deaton is charged in Rankin County, Mississippi, with first-degree murder, auto theft, and drive-by shooting. He's accused of strangling his girlfriend, stealing her car, and shooting a jogger in February. He's also suspected in the killing of a woman cleaning a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi. He also allegedly carjacked a couple in New Mexico before fleeing to Kansas and shooting the clerk.
'AK-47 Bandit' Suspect Charged in Washington State
SEATTLE (AP) — A federal grand jury has brought the first bank robbery and weapons charges against a man the FBI says is the "AK-47 bandit" who held up banks in five states. The indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle accuses 39-year-old Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, of using an AK-47 rifle to steal $15,000 in North Bend, Washington, in 2012. That is one of at least six banks Gathercole is suspected of robbing since 2012. Gathercole is being held in Lexington, Nebraska, on unrelated charges that he fired on a Kansas state trooper who was trying to pull him over last month. FBI agents found seven homemade bombs in a raid of his Montana home. It is not clear whether Gathercole has hired an attorney for the federal case.
Kansas City Man Sentenced to Life in 2014 Shooting Death
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A 33-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of a man from Independence. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor said James Rhymer was sentenced Friday for the December 2014 death of 45-year-old David Mendez. Rhymer was convicted in April of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and kidnapping. Police say Mendez was shot while sitting in a pickup in Kansas City. His body was later found inside a burned vehicle south of Harrisonville. Rhymer was arrested after a standoff with police at his Kansas City apartment. Rhymer was previously charged with murder in the 2012 killing of another man but prosecutors later dismissed those charges.
Kansas City-Area Attorney Sentenced in Fraud Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City-area attorney was sentenced to one year and one day in prison without parole for his role in a fraud scheme that stole more than $1.2 million from St. Luke's Health System. Federal prosecutors say 57-year-old Mark Schultz, of Lake Lotawana, also was ordered Friday to pay $400,500 in restitution to St. Luke's. Schultz's former law partner, Alan Gallas, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty earlier this year in a related case and was given the same sentence at Schultz. Gallas was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution. The two men ran a law firm that specialized in collection work for corporations. St. Luke's was one of their clients. The men transferred payments that were supposed to be made to St. Luke's to the firm's operating account.