Brownback Names New Acting Secretary for Health and Environment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has named an insurance executive to be acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The administration announced Friday that Jeff Andersen will oversee environmental management and the state's Medicaid program. The Kansas Senate must approve the nomination. Andersen has worked in various segments of the health care industry for 30 years. Most recently, he has been a vice president at Vizient/VHA where he worked with an insurance company and managed care contracting program. Before that, he was president/CEO of Mid-America Services Solution, which owned 10 hospitals and served 200 hospitals. Andersen will begin the job January 16th. He replaces Susan Mosier, who resigned in November.
California Man Charged in Kansas Fatal Spamming Call
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A California man accused of making a hoax emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in Kansas has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Tyler Barriss made his first court appearance in Kansas on Friday following his extradition from Los Angeles. The 25-year-old is also charged with giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. Bond is set at $500,000. Prosecutors allege Barriss was in Los Angeles when he called police on December 28th with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at a home in Wichita, Kansas. When police responded to the address, an officer fatally shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch after he opened his door. Barris has a history of making such hoax calls, which are sometimes called "swatting." A message left for the local public defender's office wasn't immediately returned.
Topeka Man Arrested in Fatal Hotel Shooting
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police have made an arrest in a shooting at a Topeka hotel that left a 31-year-old man dead. Police say 18-year-old Logan Lee Able Bartley, of Topeka, was booked Saturday on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Officers were called to the Best Western motel in southwest Topeka Thursday night for a shooting. Police Lt. Jennifer Cross says arriving officers found Jesse Lee McFall suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. McFall was taken to a local hospital, where he died. Cross says McFall and Bartley knew each other. The shooting death was Topeka's second homicide of 2018.
Earth's Magnetic Shift to Cost Wichita Airport
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Eisenhower Nation airport will have to renumber its runways due to the slow but constant shift in the Earth's magnetic poles that's altered pilots' compass headings. The Wichita Eagle reports that airport officials told members of the Wichita Airport Advisory Board this week that the compass headings of the airport's three runways have shifted six degrees. The change has prompted the airport to plan to renumber its two primary and one crosswind runways for the first time in its nearly 64-year history. Every five years, the Federal Aviation Administration tests magnetic variation and assigns the values that'll be used in designating runways. A magnetic variation shift greater than 3 degrees prompts changes. Airport officials say the changes will likely cost the airport hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Wichita Men Plead Guilty to Gambling Charges
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two men whose phones were tapped as part of an investigation into illegal gambling in Wichita have pleaded guilty to federal gambling and income tax charges. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 67-year-old Danny Chapman pleaded guilty Friday to operating an illegal gambling business and tax evasion. Forty-six-year-old Daven Flax pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of making a false statement on a tax return. The Wichita Eagle reports Chapman and Flax are among several Wichita residents whose phones were tapped by the federal government in 2015. In his plea, Chapman admitted to running an online sports betting operation with at least five people working for him. Flax admitted in his plea to running several illegal poker games in Wichita.
Filipino Woman Arrested in Kansas Sentenced for Naval Base Theft
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Filipino woman arrested last year in Kansas has been sentenced to prison for stealing nearly $100,000 from a U.S. Naval base in Japan. Federal prosecutors say 60- year-old Cynthia Lopez Creseni was sentenced Friday to two years in prison. She will be returned to the Philippines after her incarceration. Creseni pleaded guilty in August to theft of public money. She took money from a safe at the Morale Welfare and Recreation Center on the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, where she was a cashier of the game/slot room. She spent the money on plane tickets, a home in Japan, and her family in the Philippines. Creseni fled Japan in 2015 after being interviewed by federal investigators. She was arrested in January 2017 in Overland Park, for overstaying her visa.
Holton Man Sentenced for 2015 Murder of Wife
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A Holton man has been sentenced to nearly ten years in prison for killing his wife. Jackson County authorities say 67-year-old George Fleshman Jr. was sentenced Friday to 9 years and 9 months for second-degree murder. He was found guilty last month of killing his wife of 25 years, Elizabeth Jane Fleshman, in October 2015. She died the day after her husband called 911 and said he found her unresponsive at the couple's home. She was taken to a Topeka hospital where she later died.
Wichita Woman Charged in Beheading Judged Not Competent for Trial
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled a Kansas woman accused of decapitating her ex-boyfriend's mother is not competent to stand trial. Judge Faith Maughan on Friday ordered 35-year-old Rachael Hilyard of Wichita back to continue treatment at Larned State Hospital. Her status will be re-evaluated after 90 days. Hilyard is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2017 death of 63-year-old Micki Davis, the mother of Hilyard's ex-boyfriend. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said a hospital evaluation found Hilyard could regain competency if she continues treatment. Prosecutors say Davis was attacked when she went with her 9-year-old grandson to collect some belongings from a home. The boy was able to run away and call 911. Davis' decapitated body was found in the garage and her head was in the kitchen sink.
Woman Sentenced in KCK Carjacking, Kidnapping
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A woman has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for stealing a car from a Kansas City, Kansas, gas station as a 3-year-old girl slept in the back seat. The Kansas City Star reports that 30-year-old Karri Reich was sentenced Friday for attempted kidnapping. She pleaded no contest to the charge last month in Wyandotte County District Court. KSHB-TV station crew aboard a helicopter spotted the abandoned vehicle in nearby Tonganoxie about an hour after the July theft. Video showed the girl as she ran to an officer. Police say the girl wasn't hurt but went to a hospital as a precaution. A co-defendant seen on surveillance video pointing the car out before the theft was previously sentenced to three years and eight months in prison.
Lawmakers Worried after Lawrence Releases Contaminated Water
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers want to be better alerted after short notice that a city was authorized to release nitrogen-contaminated water into the Kansas River. Republican Senator Rob Olson of Olathe said Thursday that he wants Lawrence's contaminated water releases to not become normal operating practice. He also said there should be better notification along the river for such releases. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment authorized the city to release up to 30 million gallons of nitrogen-contaminated water from November to April to help clean up a former nitrogen fertilizer plant. People raised concerns after a downstream water district was notified only after the releases began. The city and the department defended the limited notification, saying the river would dilute the nitrogen-contaminated water to safe levels.
Drunken Driver Who Killed JoCo Deputy Sentenced
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A drunken driver who killed a Johnson County sheriff's deputy will spend years in prison and then be deported. The Kansas City Star reports 39-year-old Adrian Espinosa-Flores was sentenced Friday to 12.5 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed. Prosecutors say Espinosa-Flores was driving a pickup truck that hit Master Deputy Brandon Collins' patrol car in Overland Park in September 2016. The patrol vehicle was pushed into a vehicle Collins had pulled over. A fire broke out and three people in the vehicle were injured. Espinosa-Flores pleaded guilty in October to reckless second-degree murder and three counts of aggravated battery. Tests found his blood-alcohol content after the wreck was .160, twice the legal limit in Kansas. Espinosa-Flores was in the country illegally and will be deported after prison.
Stolen Baby Jesus Statue Returned to Wichita Church
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita church is celebrating the return of a baby Jesus that was stolen from its manger last week. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament said the statue was found Wednesday in a yard of a home and returned to the parish office. "Hallelujah! The Baby Jesus is back!" the church posted on Facebook. The church thinks the statue was stolen the night of January 3rd or early January 4th, prompting the church to say on its sign "This is why we can't have nice things." The Wichita Eagle reports pieces of the manger scene have been stolen in the past and some were not returned. A church member gave the 30-piece set to Blessed Sacrament nearly 35 years ago.
Topeka Police Veteran Named City's Police Chief
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran Topeka police officer will now lead the department. City Manager Brent Trout announced Friday that Bill Cochran, who has been with the department since 1987, will become the new chief. Cochran has been interim chief since November and will take over the department immediately. He has worked in several areas in the Topeka department, including homicide, patrol and criminal investigations. He also was an officer for 20 years in the Kansas Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. Trout will earn $135,500 per year. The new chief takes over a department that saw a record number of homicides last year and unrest caused by the fatal shooting of Dominique White by a police officer.