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Headlines for Thursday, August 18, 2016

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press.

Prosecutor Calls Scope of Leavenworth Prison's Smuggling Plot Alarming

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal prosecutor in Kansas says a prison drug-smuggling scheme in which six people are charged actually may involve more than 90 inmates and dozens of outsiders who assisted them.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic recently has told a judge she assumes more Leavenworth Detention Center employees may be charged than the one already being prosecuted.  According to transcripts of the July 21 hearing in Kansas City, Kansas, Tomasic said "new targets" of the investigation are being identified "at an alarming rate."  The 1,126-bed lockup is run under contract by the Corrections Corporation of America and is separate from the federal prison in Leavenworth.  The case is at the center of a legal storm over privacy rights involving prison recordings of confidential lawyer conversations with clients at the Leavenworth lockup.


3 Students Among 4 Killed in Kansas Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three Topeka students are among four people killed in a crash in Shawnee County. The Kansas Highway Patrol told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the crash happened Thursday morning when the vehicles collided on U.S. 24. The patrol said in a release that three students at Silver Lake schools were killed in one car. The patrol identified them as 17-year-old Devin Greeve, a senior at Silver Lake High School; 11-year-old Gabby Greeve, a sixth-grader at Silver Lake Elementary, and 14-year-old Tyler Crouse, a freshman at Silver Lake High School. The patrol said they were all from Topeka. The patrol said 47-year-old Lance Lenard of Rossville also died in the collision, and a 13-year-old in the car with Lenard is hospitalized in stable condition.


Kansas State Employees to See Higher Health Care Costs 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's Health Care Commission has made changes that will lead to higher premiums, copayments and some deductibles for state employees as officials try to increase cash reserves for its employee health plan next year. The Wichita Eagle reports that the health plan's cash reserves are below a $59 million target and the goal is to increase the funds back to that level over the next two years. The state will increase its employer premium rate by 7 percent and its employee premium rate by about 9 percent. The Kansas Organization of State Employees has criticized the changes, citing that state workers will pay more and get worse benefits.


More Entities to Intervene in Westar, Great Plains Merger 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has granted several requests to intervene in the proposed $12.2 billion merger between Topeka-based Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the KCC granted requests from Occidental Chemicals, Midwest Energy and two local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. At least 15 other entities have either filed or been granted permission to intervene in the proposed merger. They say they have a particular interest in whether the merger receives approval and how the merger is structured. Kansas City Power and Light's parent company, Great Plains, wants to purchase Westar for $8.6 billion, plus $3.6 billion to acquire Westar's debt. Great Plains and Westar hope to finalize the merger next year.


Memorial Held to Honor Boy Who Drowned in a Shawnee Lake

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) - Family and friend gathered last (WED) night to remember a teen who drowned at a neighborhood lake in suburban Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that more than 100 friends, family members and fellow classmates of 17-year-old Treyvon Mays met for a vigil at Lakeview Estates in Shawnee. Mays was at small lake there Tuesday night when his friends lost track of him. They weren't sure whether he was still in the water or had gone home. After reporting him missing, a dive team was called, and crews recovered his body. During the gathering, friends told of Mays's kindness to strangers and his passion for life. 


Judge Tosses Indictment Against Former Kansas Policeman 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has thrown out the indictment against a former central Kansas police officer accused of making a false statement during a federal investigation. The move Wednesday is at the request of prosecutors and comes just days before Robert S. McCaslin was to go to trial. Former Bel Aire Chief John Daily faces sentencing Friday for his role in the scheme to buy and sell discounted firearms by falsely claiming they would be used for law enforcement purposes. He has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. Another former Bel Aire police officer, Ricky L. Swanson, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing on September 8. Bel Aire is a small suburban community just north of Wichita.


Transportation Worker Killed in Western Kansas Accident 

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation says a worker has been killed in a mowing accident in western Kansas. KDOT says in a release that 39-year-old Darren Way died Thursday when the riding mower he was operating overturned and he was pinned underneath. The accident occurred as Way was mowing along Interstate 70 in Sherman County. KDOT says Way had worked with the department since 2014.


Child Sex Crimes Case Against Ex-Wichita Teacher Dismissed 

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have dismissed child pornography charges against a former teacher but the investigation is continuing. Finney County authorities said Wednesday that three counts of sexual exploitation of a child filed in January against Steven Thompson were dismissed. KAKE-TV reports that assistant county attorney William Votypka says if the ongoing investigation discovers more evidence, authorities wouldn't be able to pursue those charges if they are still prosecuting the original case. The investigation began while Thompson while working at Garden City Community College. Authorities say they found child pornography on his work computer, another computer, and other devices. Thompson was hired in April 2015 by the Wichita school district. His background check didn't indicate his legal problems because he hadn't been charged when he was hired in Wichita.


Prison Sentence for Kansas Man Who Embezzled from Company 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 42-year-old Kansas accountant faces nine years in prison for defrauding clients of more than $4 million. Thomas Hauk of Overland Park was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City. He pleaded guilty earlier to federal fraud charges, stemming from thefts from a financial services company. The Kansas City Star reports that the thefts took place for nearly a decade and were discovered in 2015. Hauk used some of the money to buy expensive cars and motorcycles, which federal authorities seized and auctioned off, raising more than $1.4 million for restitution. At Wednesday's hearing, defense attorney Erin Thompson asked the judge to deviate from sentencing guidelines and impose a less severe sentence. But Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said nine years "is well-justified in this case."


Topeka Statue Honors First Native American Vice President

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A statue has been unveiled in Topeka of native son Charles Curtis, who served as vice president under Herbert Hoover.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a small crowd turned out Wednesday as the statue was dedicated on Kansas Avenue. It joins statues of four other significant Topekans, including Washburn University's namesake, Ichabod Washburn.  Curtis's mother was a member of the Kaw Nation. Historian Deb Goodrich says that when he ran for vice president, much was made of the fact that he was descended of both pilgrims and Indians.  Curtis was born in Topeka and spent many of his childhood years either there or with his grandparents on the Kaw Reservation. He attended Topeka High School and went on to become a lawyer, eventually opening his own practice in Topeka.


Former Restaurant Owner Sentenced for Tax Fraud 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The former owner of Ziggies restaurants in Missouri and Kansas has been sentenced to about three years in prison for failing to pay more than $1 million in federal payroll taxes. Agim Zendeli of Springfield pleaded guilty earlier to failing to pay payroll taxes that he collected from his employees from 2004 to 2014. He was sentenced Wednesday to three years and one month in federal prison. He also has to pay about $1.3 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. He operated Ziggies restaurants in Springfield, Joplin, Carthage, Nevada, Republic, Willard, Marshfield, West Plains, Rolla and Poplar Bluff in Missouri, and in Pittsburg and Fort Scott in Kansas from 1998 to 2014.


Survey Says Economy Remains Weak in Rural Parts of 10 States 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states even though it improved slightly in the past month. The overall rural economic index remained in negative territory at 41.1 in August even though it was higher than July's 39.8 reading. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey's indexes suggests a decline in that area. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says the declines in cattle, grain and farm prices over the past year are weighing down the rural economy because farm income is down. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


KUMed-Salina Medical School's Fundraising Campaign Nears Goal
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A $7.5 million campaign to move the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina campus to downtown Salina is 84 percent of the way to its fundraising goal. The Salina Journal reports that the Salina Regional Health Foundation announced Wednesday that more than $6.3 million has been raised in the Blueprint for Rural Health campaign, including a $2 million grant received last week. The foundation bought a former bank building in May for the medical school's relocation. Officials say the bank building offers more than double the current location's space, and will allow the possibility of expanding class sizes. The move is expected to take place in June 2018 after major renovations have been completed. The medical school opened in 2011 on the Salina Regional Health Center campus.


Man Who Stole Watches from Outlets Must Serve Time in Prison 

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man who committed a string of outlet store break-ins that targeted watches in Connecticut and elsewhere will have to serve time in prison. Forty-year-old Cuban national Alionis Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in May and was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison. Prosecutors say he led a group that in 2013 broke into Fossil and other outlet stores at night, stealing time pieces. They say he and his partners got away with more than $1.8 million in watches from burglaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania. They say the gang also broke into a store in Maine but failed to get any merchandise. Perez also pleaded guilty to a separate conspiracy involving thefts of cash and sunglasses in 2014 from stores in Kansas and Tennessee. A judge has ordered Perez to pay restitution.


Police Identify Victim of Crash Outside Kansas Hospital 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Police say a woman has died after a rear-end collision outside a Kansas City, Kansas, hospital. Police said in a news release Wednesday that the victim of Monday night's crash outside Providence Medical Center was 74-year-old Sotera Sebastian. The crash happened when a sport utility vehicle struck another SUV that was stopped while waiting to turn into the hospital. After the crash, the driver of the striking SUV fled on foot before he was located about a block away and taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.


Former Dallas Cowboy Joseph Randle to Stand Trial in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled there's enough evidence to try former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle on charges from two different cases. KSN-TV reports that Judge John Kisner said after a preliminary hearing Thursday in Sedgwick County that there's enough evidence to bind Randle over for trial in an aggravated battery case for allegedly backing his car into three people while leaving a party. The judge also bound Randle over for trial on one count of interfering with law enforcement for allegedly dodging a warrant. Court dates weren't set. Kisner did not rule on whether Randle will stand trial in a third case involving a criminal threat against a Sedgwick County detention deputy. The Cowboys released Randle last year.



Hosmer's 9th-Inning Home Run Lifts Royals to 4-1 Win over Tigers

DETROIT (AP) — Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Royals a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers Wednesday night and complete a three-game sweep.  The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez threw seven shutout innings striking out six and walking two. In the ninth, Tigers' reliever Shane Greene (2-3) allowed a one-out single to Lorenzo Cain before Hosmer's line drive into the right-field stands. Drew Butera added an RBI single later in the inning. Royals' starter, Yordano Ventura, allowed only one earned run in 6 1/2 innings. Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his sixth save. The victory brought the Royals back to the .500 mark with 60 wins and 60 losses so far in the season.

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