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Headlines for Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Help Immigrant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas congresswoman has introduced legislation that would help a Lawrence man who's fighting U.S. efforts to deport him to Bangladesh.  The bill that Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins introduced yesterday (TUE) would provide for the "relief" of 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal.  U.S. immigration officials put Jamal on a plane bound for his native county Monday before an immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case.  His attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, said Jamal was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu.  Sharma-Crawford says government attorneys have indicated they're coordinating efforts to bring Jamal to the Kansas City area.  Jamal overstayed his visa and has been living in the country illegally.  He has lived in the U.S. for the past 30 years, working as an adjunct professor and researcher. Congresswoman Jenkins says her "heart aches'' for his wife and children.

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UPDATE: Kansas Immigrant Returning to Kansas City Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  An attorney for a man living in Kansas who is fighting deportation to Bangladesh says his family and supporters are encouraged that he was returned to Missouri but his ultimate fate is still completely up to federal immigration officials. Syed Ahmed Jamal, of Lawrence, was housed in the Platte County jail after arriving in Kansas City about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken off a plane in Hawaii and sent back after a federal immigration board approved a stay as he battles to remain in the U.S., where he's lived for 30 years. His attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, said during a news conference at the jail that immigration officials could agree to allow Jamal to return to Lawrence under orders of supervision until the case is decided, which could take months. She noted he had a job, proper work authorization, a valid Social Security number and a driver's license, and strong community support so "at this point it makes little sense to keep him detained." But she said federal authorities also could decide could keep him in jail, or send him somewhere else.​

(earlier report) 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  Attorneys for a Kansas man fighting deportation to Bangladesh say he has been returned to Missouri. Rekha Sharma-Crawford, an attorney for 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal, posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon that he was being held in the Platte County, Missouri, jail, about 25 miles north of Kansas City. The post did not provide any other details. It's the latest move in a deportation fight that began January 24, when Jamal was arrested at his home in Lawrence. He was held in Missouri jails until being taken to a detention center in El Paso, Texas. On Monday, immigration officials put him on a plane back to Bangladesh. After a federal judge issued a temporary stay, Jamal was taken off the plane when it stopped to refuel in Hawaii. Jamal has lived in the U.S. for 30 years with his wife, who is also from Bangladesh, and three children who are U.S. citizens.​

(earlier report) 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas father fighting efforts by the U.S. to deport him to Bangladesh is being returned from Honolulu to the Kansas City area.  His attorney, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, posted on Facebook that 55-year-old Syed Ahmed Jamal will return this (WED) afternoon. Family spokesman Alan Anderson says the hope is that he will be allowed to stay with his family under an "order of supervision" while the family fights the matter in the courts. That process could take months.  U.S. immigration officials put Jamal on a plane bound for his native county Monday before an immigration panel granted a temporary stay in the case. Sharma-Crawford said he was taken off the flight when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu.  Kansas Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins has introduced legislation that would make Jamal and his wife lawful permanent residents.

(earlier report) 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - An attorney for a chemistry instructor who is fighting deportation to Bangladesh says her office is considering all possible options to get him released from a Hawaii detention center and home to his wife and children in Kansas.  Rekha Sharma-Crawford said Tuesday that immigration officials could voluntarily return Syed Ahmed Jamal to the mainland U.S., but if they don't, her firm will ask a federal judge to order his return.  Jamal was detained in Hawaii after being removed from a plane late Monday that was flying him back to Bangladesh. Sharma-Crawford says he was put on the plane early Monday without his attorneys' knowledge before a federal immigration panel issued a second stay.  Jamal's supporters have been fighting deportation since he was arrested at his Lawrence home on January 24.  His wife and three U.S. native children remain in Lawrence.

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Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer Taps Tracey Mann to be Lieutenant Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has picked Tracey Mann to serve as the state's next lieutenant governor.  The new Republican governor announced his appointment of the 41-year-old Mann during a Kansas Livestock Association dinner in Topeka. A swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the Statehouse.  Mann is a commercial real estate broker and farmer from Salina. He said in a statement he's "extremely grateful for the opportunity."  Colyer was the state's longest-serving lieutenant governor but became governor Jan. 31 when former GOP Governor Sam Brownback stepped down to take an ambassador's post.  Mann will be on the gubernatorial ticket when Colyer seeks a full, four-year term this year.

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Report: Changes in Federal Tax Laws to Boost Kansas Revenues 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report projects that Kansas will collect more than $505 million in additional revenues over the next three years because of changes in federal income tax laws. The state Department of Revenue's report Wednesday was good news for legislators as they wrestle with a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost spending on public schools. But it also could spur interest in state tax cuts. But Democratic state Representative Tom Sawyer of Wichita said he's concerned that the numbers are too speculative. The department said Kansas will see tax collections increase partly because Congress limited some federal income tax deductions. The department projected that the state will collect an additional $138 million in the 2019 fiscal year starting July 1, $180 million in fiscal 2020 and $188 million in fiscal 2021. The department released its projections for a joint meeting of the House and Senate tax committees.

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Kansas Senate Committee Takes Up Police Body Camera Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas Senate committee is considering a bill to improve access to audio and video recordings from police body and vehicle cameras.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the bill would require law enforcement to produce within 24 hours recordings to the person on the videos, close family members and attorneys.  Currently, state law requires that police provide the recordings to the subject, their parents if the person is a minor, that person's attorney, or the person's heir, if the subject died.  The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday heard testimony from relatives of Dominique White, who was fatally shot by Topeka police in September. The family tried for 11 weeks to see police video, before law enforcement allowed only White's father to see it.  Several law enforcement organizations spoke against the bill.

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Kansas State School Board Approves Education Funding Audit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas State Board of Education has approved an audit of how state funds are distributed to public schools following questions about the allocation of some dollars.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the board accepted a recommendation Tuesday from Education Commissioner Randy Watson. The review is expected to start within two months and will examine whether funds are distributed in keeping with the state's school funding law.  A legislative audit said in December that a calculation used for decades to distribute transportation funds to school districts wasn't authorized by state law. It said the state spent an additional $45 million over the past five years because of the calculation.  The board agreed to the broader audit after rejecting a push by some legislators to suspend Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis.

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Rifle, More Than 1,300 Rounds of Ammo Found in Car

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County Sheriff's authorities say officers found an assault rifle and more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition in a car after a chase in Lawrence. Sergeant Kirsten Channel says the chase began early Wednesday when a sheriff's deputy stopped a car in Lawrence for a traffic violation. He called for backup after seeing an AR-15 rifle in the car, and the suspect drove off. The car eventually was stopped. Officials say a search uncovered the rifle, ammunition and drugs. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the 26-year-old driver, from Kansas City, Kansas, was scheduled to appear before a judge Wednesday. State prison officials say the suspect is on parole, with previous convictions including several felony burglaries in Leavenworth County.

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Applebees Restaurant Closed in Independence After Racial Incident

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Applebee's has temporarily closed one of its restaurants in Independence, Missouri.  The company also fired three employees who are accused of falsely accusing two black women of "dining and dashing." Applebee's said in a statement that it doesn't "tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment." The statement said it was closing the restaurant in the Independence Center shopping mall so employees can "regroup, learn and grow."  

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Wichita Man Pleads Guilty to Running Illegal Gambling Scheme 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita tennis coach has pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business. KAKE News reports Jack Oxler pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating an illegal poker gambling business and operating an illegal sports betting business. The U.S. attorney said in court documents that Oxler owned and managed the business, which grossed $2,000 in revenue every day. Oxler formerly was a tennis coach at Newman University and two Wichita high schools, and was a tennis instructor at Genesis Health Clubs in Wichita until last year. Oxler is the eighth person charged in the investigation. Two of others pleaded guilty earlier this year, and three former law enforcement officers have also been named as part of the investigation. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2.

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Immigration Agent Pleads Guilty in Kansas Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused of sending a Wichita television news anchor sensitive law enforcement material has pleaded guilty to exceeding authorized access to a government computer. ICE Agent Andrew J. Pleviak was also taken into custody at Wednesday's change-of-plea hearing after a federal judge found there were no conditions which can reasonably assure the safety of the community or his compliance with bond requirements. A probable cause affidavit released in January shows KAKE-TV anchor Deb Farris told police Pleviak was sending her sensitive law enforcement material and texting messages that were sexual in nature. Police photographed about 185 screen shots of text messages between them. Farras has said Pleviak was texting her things that made her uncomfortable and scared her. Sentencing is May 2.

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Mother of Kansas Man Killed in Hoax Call Seeks Tougher Laws

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The mother of a Kansas man fatally shot by police after a hoax emergency call has urged lawmakers to toughen penalties for making false calls.  Lisa Finch spoke at hearing Tuesday on a bill that would allow prosecutors to file a murder charge if someone is killed. The Wichita Eagle reports she wants the Legislature to name the bill after her son, Andrew Finch. The unarmed 28-year-old Wichita man was killed in December by police responding to a California man's call with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at Finch's Wichita home.  The alleged caller has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.  Police critics have been calling for the officer who shot Finch to be fired and criminally charged. Some activists were thrown out of a Wichita City Council meeting Tuesday.

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Lawsuit Settled over Student Beating by 2 Kansas School Employees

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The family of a female student who was beaten up outside Olathe North High School by two school employees has settled its lawsuit against the school district.  The Kansas City Star reports a lawsuit filed last year in federal court indicates the student was beaten in February 2016 outside the school.  According to the lawsuit, the victim, identified as Jane Doe T, had been threatened by another girl whose mother worked at the school.  She was outside the school with her brother when he began fighting with the other girl and two female school employees.  The two employees were fired and were later found guilty in Johnson County of battery. They were placed on probation.  The details of the settlement are confidential because the girl is a minor.

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Inmate Admits to Stabbing, Injuring Corrections Officer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas inmate has pleaded guilty to stabbing and injuring a corrections officer.  Twenty-seven-year-old Allen Thomas Schroeder Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree attempted murder in the April attack on Shawnee County corrections officer Lacy Noll.  She alleges Schroeder became angry after she threatened to write him up for screaming and inciting a riot. Witnesses testify that Schroeder sharpened a broken drawer handle to stab Noll. She says she was struck on her face, back and shoulder.  Sentencing is set for March 7. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 25 years, to be served after his current 16-month sentence for an unrelated attempted aggravated battery case.

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Alcohol Factor in Topeka Man Killing Brother and Himself

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Tests found a high level of alcohol in the blood of a Kansas man who fatally shot his brother and then himself last year.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports an autopsy found the blood alcohol level of 29-year-old Shawn Jacobs to be 0.34, more than four times the legal limit in Kansas. No other drugs were found in his system.  Shawnee County District Coroner Charles Glenn said Jacobs committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on September 28.  Topeka police say Jacobs shot his brother, 36-year-old Robert Raymond Jacobs Jr., after they argued when both their vehicles got stuck in the mud while on a fishing trip near the Kansas River near Topeka.

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Lawsuit: Sexual Misconduct Culture Among Kansas Police

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - A woman in southeast Kansas is accusing a city, its police chief and a former police officer of failing to protect her from a sexual assault.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the lawsuit filed Monday accuses the city of Pittsburg of tolerating an atmosphere of sexual misconduct and undue familiarity within its police department.  The lawsuit says 22-year-old Jesse Edward Loren Davis arrested the woman in August after a domestic disturbance and asked her to flash him and allow him to inappropriately touch her. She alleges she agreed to his advances out of fear.  The lawsuit also alleges that Davis patrolled the city and transported detainees despite not being fully certified.  Davis has been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery and official misconduct.  City officials declined to comment on the lawsuit but say their priority is citizens' safety.
 
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Olathe North Boys Give Carnation to Every Girl in School

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Two Olathe North baseball players decided to do something special for the girls in their school on Valentine's Day — all 1,100 of them. Connor Hughes and his best friend, Dillon Ponzer, and other members on the school's baseball team began planning Wednesday's surprise about three weeks ago. Principal Jason Herman fully supported the idea to buy flowers for every girl in the school. They originally planned to get roses, but went with the more budget-friendly carnations. Hughes and Ponzer donated $200 and the school helped with the rest. The Kansas City Star reports more than 1,300 flowers were delivered to the school early Wednesday. That left some for female staff at the school. The surprise flowers were handed out Wednesday morning to all females at the school.

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Runner from Liberal Wins International Pancake Day Race

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) - Liberal has reclaimed the title as winner of the annual International Pancake Day Race.  KNSS reports a Liberal woman, Gaby Covarrubias, ran the Shrove Tuesday 415-yard race with a time of 1:08.85. That was about 2.5 seconds faster than Katie Godof, who ran a similar race in Olney, England with a time of 1:11.4. Contestants must carry a pancake in a frying pan and flip it at the beginning and end of the race.  The Shrove Tuesday pancake race began in Olney in the 15th century. In 1950, Liberal challenged Olney to an international competition.  It was the first win for Liberal since 2015. The Kansas town now leads the series 38-29. Last year, a winner couldn't be determined because of a technical glitch in Olney.

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