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Headlines for Friday, August 17, 2018

Independent Gets Spot on Kansas Ballot for Governor; Kobach Responds to Criticism

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the certification of Greg Orman as an independent candidate in the November ballot for governor (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

The gubernatorial campaign of Kris Kobach is hitting back on assertions by Independent candidate Greg Orman that many Kansas Republicans view their nominee as not only extreme, but incompetent and corrupt. Kobach's spokesperson Danedri Herbert says cutting taxes and stopping illegal immigration is not extreme. She says there has not been any hint of corruption in any aspect of Kobach's career, unlike Orman's association with a former Goldman Sachs board member who was convicted of insider trading. When that issue arose during the 2014 Senate race, Orman said in he had a "very modest" investment in a company with Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted in 2012 of insider trading.

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  Independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman says many Kansas Republicans view their party's nominee, Kris Kobach, as not only extreme, but incompetent and corrupt. He believes those Republican voters will be attracted to his background as a businessman. Orman said Friday he expects his business experience will also draw to him Democratic voters who view the governor's job as not just a policy job but a management job. The Kansas City-area businessman says he always anticipated he would be on the November general election ballot as an independent candidate but says it's great when you get the official news. He said there here is a clear choice for Kansans now between two career partisan politicians bought by special interests and an independent businessman who is going to serve Kansans.
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2:20 p.m.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City-area businessman Greg Orman has submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot as an independent candidate for Kansas governor, launching what could become the most serious candidacy for governor by someone outside a major party since the 1930s. The Secretary of State's office said Friday that the names of Orman and his lieutenant governor nominee John Doll would appear on the November ballot. Orman will face Democratic State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka and Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose nomination was only settled this week after Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded in a primary with a razor-thin margin of some 350 votes out of more than 316,000 cast.

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Man Charged with Sexually Abusing Kids at Kansas Day Care

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A 70-year-old man has been charged with molesting five children at a day care in Johnson County.  The Kansas City Star reports Lennie Amlin Jr., of Spring Hill, is facing five felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.  The criminal complaint says the alleged victims ranged in age from about 5 to 11.  The charges allege that between March 2017 and January 2018, Amlin engaged in lewd fondling or touching of five different children.  A family member of Amlin's owns the licensed day care in Spring Hill. The business' license was suspended in March after the allegations against Amlin were raised.  Amlin is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Friday.

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Possible Dog-Fighting Operation Raided in Northeast Kansas

BENDENA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating a possible dog-fighting operation after 45 dogs were removed from a property in rural northeast Kansas. The agency said Friday it worked with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to gather evidence and the dogs in Bendena, in Doniphan County. Agents discovered adult and young dogs in "deplorable" conditions Thursday. Some of the dogs had injuries consistent with dog fighting and dog-fighting paraphernalia was found on the property. The bureau didn't describe the breed of dogs. Authorities arrested 28-year-old Colton Albright on 42 counts of dog fighting and other charges. An ASPCA shelter will care for the dogs until a court determines custody. The Great Plains SPCA and the Doniphan County Sheriff's Office are also helping with the case.

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Judge Refuses to Dismiss County Commissioner's Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) —  A federal judge has refused to toss out wire fraud and money laundering charges against Sedgwick County commissioner Michael O'Donnell. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said Friday during a hearing that the defense team had not provided any reasons he could dismiss the charges under federal procedures. The Wichita Eagle reported Melgren was highly critical of the defense contention federal charges should be dismissed because O'Donnell could have been charged under state law regulating alleged campaign finance violations. A new 26-count indictment charges O'Donnell with wire fraud and money laundering, but drops earlier wire fraud counts related to reports filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. A first appearance on that indictment is August 28.

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge plans to hear oral arguments Friday on whether the federal government needlessly interjected itself in matters traditionally reserved for states when it charged Sedgwick County commissioner Michael O'Donnell with fraud. Prosecutors have accused O'Donnell of fraudulently obtaining $10,500 for his personal use from his campaign accounts during his races for the county commission and the Kansas Legislature. The U.S. Attorney's Office said a hearing before U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren is still scheduled on defense motions just days after prosecutors filed a new indictment. The defense wants the court to dismiss the charges. In May, O'Donnell pleaded not guilty to the initial 12-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering for allegedly stealing $10,500 from his campaign accounts. The expanded 26-count indictment charges him with wire fraud and money laundering but drops the earlier bank fraud counts and some wire fraud counts related to reports filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. His first court appearance to enter a plea on that new indictment is August 28. Such proceedings in federal court are typically brief, and the federal magistrate can only accept a plea of not guilty at that stage. By contrast, Friday's hearing is expected to go to the core of a possible defense strategy, which seems to have sparked the attention of the judge overseeing the case. The defense has argued that "overzealous prosecution" sometimes occurs when prosecutors throw a wide net. It also contends O'Donnell came to law enforcement's attention during an investigation of others. Prosecutors argue the indictment alleges federal crimes properly brought before federal courts. O'Donnell, a Wichita Republican, was elected to the state's Senate in 2012 for a term that ended in January 2017. He did not run for re-election and instead was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission for a term that began in 2017. The term is set to expire in 2020. He remains free on bond and continues to serve as county commissioner.

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Topeka Police Investigating Fatal Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating the death of a man who was shot several times in an alleyway. Lt. Aaron Jones reports police found a man dead in central Topeka Thursday evening. Officers responded after a caller reported hearing four gunshots and a man down in the alley. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the man, 20-year-old Gianni Sabastian Noriega, was shot several times. Police are looking for a white passenger car believed to be involved in the shooting. Further details were not immediately released.

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Man Arrested After Toddler Injured in Wichita Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested a suspect in a shooting at a Wichita playground that injured a 2-year-old girl. Officer Charley Davidson says an 18-year-old man was arrested Thursday night and booked for aggravated battery and aggravated assault. The girl was shot in the foot Wednesday while she was at a neighborhood playground. Police say someone fired several rounds into the playground while driving by in the wrong lane. Police say the girl's father took her to a hospital. Davison says the man is not cooperating with police investigators. Three other youths, ages 8 to 16, were at the playground at the time but were not hurt. Wichita police say their parents also aren't cooperating with investigators. Police believe the shooting is related to an ongoing feud between two street gangs.

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Arkansas Police Release Report on Carnival Killings Connected to Kansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas police say one of four carnival workers accused of dumping the bodies of a slain Kansas couple had ordered the killings while posing as a carnival mafia member.  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that carnival workers Kimberly Younger, Michael Fowler, Rusty Frasier and Christine Tenney were charged this week in Crawford County Circuit Court. The charges include abuse of a corpse in the deaths of Alfred and Pauline Carpenter.  Van Buren police say Younger posed as a carnival mafia member named "Frank Zaitchik" and texted others last month to kill the Carpenters on the fairgrounds at Great Bend, Kansas, where the couple were vendors.  Police say Fowler told investigators that the killings were initiation into the carnival mafia.  Younger, Fowler and Frasier are being held on $1 million bond. Tenney is being held on $250,000 bond. All have pleaded not guilty.

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2 Bodies Found in Woods Near Kansas City Area Lake

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two bodies found in a wooded area near a Kansas City area lake are those of two men who have been missing since August 6.  Police spokesman Lionel Colon said Thursday the bodies were identified as 25-year-old Keith Wasmer and 29-year-old Michael Brewer.  Their bodies were found Wednesday near Longview Lake. Police haven't said how the men died but the deaths are being investigated as homicides.  The friends disappeared after going to a marina at the lake to meet someone.

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KU Plans to Eliminate Direct Support for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The University of Kansas plans to discontinue funding for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, the statewide radio reading service for the blind and vision-impaired. Kansas Public Radio reports that the decision doesn't mean an end to Audio-Reader, but it does mean an end to KU's direct funding for the service.  Three years from now, KU will no longer pay for the salaries of Audio-Reader's six employees. Reggie Robinson, KU's vice chancellor for public affairs, delivered the news to Audio-Reader's advisory board Thursday afternoon, saying KU needed to trim its budget while protecting KU's core educational mission. 

Audio-Reader will remain in its current building on campus and KU will still pay for Audio-Reader's utilities.  KU will also provide indirect support in the form of maintenance, engineering, housekeeping and other administrative assistance (HR/payroll).  But Robinson said Audio-Reader will soon have to rely on its own fundraising to pay for its three full-time and three part-time staffers. KU currently provides approximately $330,000 a year to the Kansas Audio-Reader Network.  That money is used to pay for the salaries and benefits of the organization's six employees.  Part of the money also helps pay for portions of the salaries for several employees Audio-Reader shares with its neighbor, Kansas Public Radio.  These dual employees, who work in engineering, accounting and administration, perform work for both Audio-Reader and KPR. 

During the current fiscal year, KU will continue to pay roughly $330,000.  Next fiscal year, that amount will drop to $165,000.  The following year, KU will also pay $165,000.  After that, KU will no longer provide direct cash support.  Robinson, who made the decision to cut Audio-Reader's funding, explained the move by saying the University was trying to absorb a $20 million budget cut on the Lawrence campus and that he needed to protect the school's core educational services.  Audio-Reader, he said, falls outside of the scope of those core educational services.  Audio-Reader is the nation's second oldest radio reading service and has been broadcasting to blind and vision impaired listeners from the KU campus for the past 47 years.

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Driver Who Killed Kansas City Cyclist Gets 120-Day Sentence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man, who was under the influence of drugs when his car hit and killed a 32-year-old Kansas City bicyclist, has been sentenced to at least 120 days in prison.  The Kansas City Star reports 32-year-old Joseph Lasala was sentenced Thursday for involuntary manslaughter in the April 2016 death of Anthony Saluto.  Prosecutors say a vehicle driven by Lasala was driving east in central Kansas City when it veered into the westbound lanes and hit Saluto on his bicycle.  Investigators determined Lasala was speeding and was under the influence of cocaine, marijuana and opiates.  If Lasala successfully completes the 120-day sentence he will be on probation for five years. If he violates his probation, he would serve up to seven years in prison.

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Slain Felon Lied to Buy Firearm Before Wounding 3 Officers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a homicide suspect who was killed by Kansas City police after wounding three officers was able to pass a firearm-purchase background check despite an extensive criminal history in Oklahoma.  The Kansas City Star reports that the FBI says 25-year-old Marlin Mack provided false biographical information to a gun shop in Independence, Missouri.  Mack was being sought in the killing of Indian engineering student Sharath Koppu when he wounded two officers July 15 while fleeing from a motel. Mack died hours later in another shootout that wounded a third officer.  Macks's criminal history includes a robbery conviction. Officials didn't say what specific information he falsified on the purchase form between when Koppu was killed and the gunfights. They also didn't say if Mack's purchase included a gun used in the gunfights.

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Woman Sent to Prison for Wichita Student's Killing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman convicted of killing a Wichita high school student has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison.  Twenty-year-old Terasha Diane Presley-Dupree pleaded guilty in July to voluntary manslaughter and criminal discharge of a firearm in the October 2015 death of 18-year-old Debrylan Bell, who was shot at least six times while he sat in his car outside of Woodgate Apartments.  The Wichita Eagle reports witnesses reported Presley-Dupree and Dennis Saquan McGaugh III speeding away from the apartment complex after 20 to 30 rounds were fired into Bell's car.  Bell was a senior at Wichita North High School.  McGaugh was sentenced in June to nearly six years in prison. Prosecutors say Bell's killing was not a random act but the exact motive remains unclear.

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Postal Worker Gets Big Surprise: Snake on the Mailbox

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Rain, snow, sleet, even barking dogs are fine, but a Kansas postal worker had to draw the line when he found a red tail boa constrictor draped over a mailbox. The Kansas City Star reports that the letter carrier was delivering mail Friday in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb. The huge snake was on the mailbox on the front porch. The letter carrier called animal control. It took three officers to wrangle the reptile, which was taken to an animal rescue center. Police spokesman John Lacy says the snake probably escaped from a nearby home. He was hopeful the owner would report it missing. As for the letter carrier, he didn't stick around. The police department posted on Twitter, "The poor resident did not receive their mail today (obviously)."

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Topeka Jewish Community to Celebrate 2 Anniversaries

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — This weekend is an important time for Topeka's Jewish congregation. Members of Temple Beth Sholom will mark the 90th anniversary of the congregation and the 150th anniversary of Jews coming to Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a special gala will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the temple. The event will include presentations from several longtime Jewish residents of Topeka. Saturday's event will highlight the 90th anniversary of Temple Beth Sholom, which was an Orthodox congregation until 1928, when it transitioned to a Reform congregation. And David Katzman, professor emeritus of history and American studies at the University of Kansas, says 2018 marks 150 years of a continuous organized Jewish community in Topeka, making it the oldest Jewish community in Kansas.

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Kansas City Zoo Keeps Special Rhino Hidden from Public

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo has a special rhino that's kept hidden from the public. The Kansas City Star reports that an eastern black rhinoceros named Imara spends all day inside a barn or a small shaded pen because of a skin condition that makes it dangerous to be in the sun. Kirk Suedmeyer is the zoo's head veterinarian. He says Imara has a loss of melanin granules in the basal layer of her skin, making her vulnerable to direct sunlight. Zoo keepers noticed one of Imara's nostrils turned pink when she was 2 years old. Suedmeyer says the pink coloring progressed to her limbs and a biopsy revealed her condition. Animal manager Katie Muninger calls Imara a "special rhino," saying zookeepers have a special bond with her from socializing daily.

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Andover Golf Course Worker Dies Following Pillar Collapse

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — An employee at an Andover country club has died days after a brick pillar fell on him.  Andover police say 27-year-old Jeff Williams died Wednesday from injuries he suffered on Sunday at the Terradyne Country Club. Williams was an assistant superintendent at the golf course.  KAKE-TV reports Williams and another worker were in a hole repairing a water line when thepillar fell on him.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.

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National Republican Super PAC Targets 2 Kansas Districts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican super PAC is deploying workers and attention to two Kansas congressional districts.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Congressional Leadership Fund recently set up offices in Kansas' 2nd District and 3rd District.  In the 2nd District, Democrat Paul Davis faces Steve Watkins, a GOP newcomer. In the 3rd District, Representative Kevin Yoder is facing Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids.  Each CLF office will have a full-time employee working with volunteers who inform targeted voters on the work that their representative in Congress does on their behalf. The goal is to help encourage them to go to the polls in November.  Michael Byerly, a CLF spokesman, said the offices are part of the group's effort to protect the Republican majority in the U.S. House.  Democratic leaders say the move indicates the GOP is concerned about losing the two Kansas districts.

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Man Charged with Murder in Stabbing of Kansas Victim

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A 49-year-old Paola man is charged with first-degree murder in a fatal stabling last week in Shawnee.  Vincenzo Lucasta is charged in the Aug. 8 killing of 57-year-old David J. Paterno, who was found dead at his home.  Lucasta, who is also known as Morgan Lee Speakman, was arrested Monday in Kansas City. He is being held on $2 million bond in the Johnson County jail.  The Kansas City Star reports Lucasta has a lengthy criminal record. He spent prison time in both Kansas and Missouri, including a 15-year sentence for armed robbery in 2001.

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Trial in 1984 Missouri Teenager's Death Moved to New County

TUSCUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The trial of a 59-year-old man facing a capital murder charge in the 1984 death of a Missouri teenager has been moved to a different county.  Martin Priest's trial in the death of 15-year-old Tammy Sue Rothganger of Eldon has been moved from Miller to Laclede County. Rothganger disappeared while walking to school in May 1984. A friend reported seeing the girl getting into a car with an unidentified man and Priest, who was her mother's boyfriend. Her remains were never found.  Priest was charged in 2016 while serving a life sentence in Kansas for a different murder.  The Camdenton Lake News Leader reports in the early to mid-1980s, authorities in Missouri and Kansas linked Priest to five deaths, but prosecutors gained only one conviction that was upheld.

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Weak Economic Growth Likely in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy is expected to continue growing slowly in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but the ongoing trade disputes remain a concern.  Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says grain prices have fallen even lower since the trade disputes erupted.  The overall economic index for the region increased slightly to 54.8 in August from July's 53.8.  That score still suggests growth because it is above 50, while any score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.  Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.  The bankers remain concerned about the economy. The confidence index remained in negative territory but climbed to 46.5 in August from July's 42.7.

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