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Headlines for Friday, September 14, 2018

Kansas Agency Accused of Not Investigating Sexual Misconduct

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman has filed a federal lawsuit accusing a Kansas agency of failing to properly investigate complaints that a high-ranking official offered her a job in exchange for sex and sent her a sexually explicit video of him.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Jennifer Gill filed the lawsuit earlier this month against the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Gill worked for Equi-Venture Farms, which provides disability services.  The lawsuit accuses Brandt Haehn of soliciting sex from Gill in exchange for a job in 2016 . Haehn was the department's commissioner of in-home and community services. He's no longer employed by the state.  Gill alleges she reported Haehn's actions to the department last year, but the agency never conducted "a prompt and thorough investigation."  The agency has declined to comment.

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Kobach Aims to Drive Out Migrants Living in Kansas Illegally

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach says Kansas is spending $377 million a year on benefits for immigrants living in the state illegally, and he promises to put a stop to it if he's elected governor. But the figure Kobach repeatedly cites comes from an anti-immigration group, which experts say uses questionable calculations. Most of the costs are for things such as education for immigrant children that Kansas is required by federal law to provide. Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state and has made illegal immigration a core issue in his campaign. His claim is based on a September 2017 report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Washington think tank advocates stricter immigration enforcement and less legal immigration.

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University of Kansas Health System Given $66 Million Gift

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Health System has received a $66 million donation to be used for an inpatient care unit.  Health System officials said Thursday the donation from the Sunderland Foundation is the largest gift ever received by the system. The gift completes a $100 million fundraising campaign for the new unit, which will allow its Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and its Divison of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy to come together for patient care and research.  The Sutherland Foundation helped start the campaign in 2014 with a $2 million gift.  Charlie Sunderland has served on the Hospital Authority Board for many years and also chairs the Quality and Safety Committee.

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Report: Kansas Plans to Spend $4.6 Million on Election Security

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows Kansas plans to spend more than $4.6 million in election grants to tighten cyber-security, modernize voting equipment, audit elections and safeguard voter rolls.  The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released on Thursday the Kansas plan for its share of the $380 million allocated by Congress to strengthen voting systems amid ongoing threats from Russia and others.  Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the commission that about half of its grant would be spent on cyber-security efforts at all levels of election administration. He said the state will supplement existing staff with outside experts.  Nearly $1.07 million is slated to ensure every voting machine in Kansas has a paper audit trail.  The remaining funds would be used to better secure the voter registration system and audit elections.

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Kansas Author Releases Memoir on Growing Up Poor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas writer who grew up in poverty is releasing a memoir she hopes will shine a light on an often-ignored part of the American landscape. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sarah Smarsh's book "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth" is scheduled for nationwide release Tuesday. The book is listed as a contender in this year's National Book Award for Nonfiction. The 38-year-old says she chronicled her turbulent childhood in rural Kansas because such stories often go unnoticed. Bookstores are currently packed with stories about life among the working poor. But Smarsh says she wants to highlight more subtleties of class, culture and politics through her experience growing up in the 1980s and '90s as the daughter of a Kansas farmer.

Sarah Smarsh will be giving a talk and reading from her book at Liberty Hall in Lawrence on September 25th. 
 

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Police: Man Arrested After Baby Dies from Internal Injuries

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Haysville police say a man has been arrested after a 4-month-old baby died from internal injuries. The Wichita Eagle reports Haysville Police Chief Jeff Whitfield says officers were called Saturday on a report of a child possibly having a seizure. The infant was taken to a hospital and died on Thursday. The child's name and gender were not released. Sedgwick County jail records show 32-year-old Andrew Wayne Franklin was arrested Thursday and booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, child abuse and failure to comply with a warrant. Franklin's relationship with the baby is unclear. The case remains under investigation.

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$1.5 Million Settlement for Muslim Workers Fired in Prayer Dispute

DENVER (AP) — A big U.S. meatpacker has agreed to pay $1.5 million to 138 Somali-American Muslim workers who were fired from their jobs at a Colorado plant after they were refused prayer breaks, a federal anti-discrimination agency said Friday. Cargill Meat Solutions, a division of Minnesota-based agribusiness company Cargill Corp., also agreed to train managers and hourly workers in accommodating Muslim employees' prayer breaks at its Fort Morgan beef processing plant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said. Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill denies wrongdoing but agreed to settle to avoid further litigation, the federal agency said. The dispute dates back to the firings of the workers in late 2016 after management rescinded policies allowing Muslim employees to take short breaks for prayer. In 2017, the agency found that the workers had been harassed and discriminated against for protesting the unannounced policy change that denied them opportunities for obligatory prayer. Hundreds of Somali-Americans work at the plant in Fort Morgan, northeast of Denver. In a related announcement, a Teamsters union local that was supposed to represent the workers will pay them $153,000 to settle discrimination complaints. The federal agency said it determined that Teamsters Local Union No. 455, based in Denver and in Fort Morgan, failed to advocate for the Muslim workers in their dispute with Cargill and even harassed them because of their race, religion and national origin. The workers were dues-paying union members. Union officials denied wrongdoing. But the local unit agreed to pay the workers, undergo training in handling grievances, and publicize employee rights to be free of discrimination based on race or national origin. Like other U.S. firms that employ Muslim line workers at meatpacking and processing plants, Cargill managers must balance religious accommodations with demands of processing meat in an operation that frequently runs 24 hours. Managing possible disruptions not only slow production but can create safety issues for line workers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, and Qusair Mohamedbhai, a Denver attorney who represented the workers, praised the settlement. Mohamedbhai said in a statement that he welcomed "Cargill's commitment to continue to communicate its longstanding prayer accommodation practices."

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2 Arrested After Reported Gun Sale at Lawrence High School

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two juveniles at Lawrence High School were arrested this week after a parent reported hearing that a student tried to sell a gun to another student. Principal Matt Brungardt said in an email to parents that police and school officials discovered the weapon had been taken from a parent's home. Lawrence police recovered the firearm off the school campus. District spokeswoman Julie Boyle said the gun was found Thursday. She says the parents of the students were notified and disciplinary action had been taken in accordance with district policy. Lawrence officer Derrick Smith said Friday that two juveniles were arrested Monday morning on the school grounds. The Lawrence Journal-World reported the Douglas County District Attorney's Office didn't immediately respond to a question about whether charges would be filed.

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Wichita Officer Sues Police Chief over Comments After Arrest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer who says he was wrongly accused of raping a woman last year is suing the city's police chief for defamation. Marlon Woolcock contends in a lawsuit filed September 5 that Chief Gordon Ramsay damaged his reputation and hurt his chances of becoming an FBI agent by saying after Woolcock was arrested that his actions weren't in line with department's conduct standards.Prosecutors declined to file charges against Woolcock in the case.The Wichita Eagle reports city attorney Jennifer Magana said Thursday neither the city nor the chief would comment on the lawsuit.Woolcock is currently a patrol officer for the Wichita department. He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. Woolcock is suing the woman who accused him of rape, and she has filed counterclaims against him.

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Maine Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Kansas Murder

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old Maine man was sentenced to life in prison for killing a Kansas man while on a cross-country trip.  Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Robert Willard Colson, of Bucksport, Maine, was sentenced Thursday to life with no possibility of parole for 25 years.  Colson was convicted in June for first-degree murder and three other charges in the August 2017 death of Matthew Miles Schoshke.  Prosecutors say Colson shot Schoshke at his home in Tescott after Schoshke returned from work. Colson drove to California, where he was arrested while trying to escape from an Amtrak train after a passenger was stabbed.  Prosecutors said Colson was on a bus trip from Maine to California when he missed his bus in Salina and walked until he stopped at Schoshke's home.

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Feds: Bank Tellers Replaced $100 Bills with $1 Bills

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say two Kansas City bank tellers replaced $100 bills with $1 bills while stealing about $400,000 over at least five years.  One of the tellers, 46-year-old Stacey Lyn Crail, pleaded guilty Wednesday to bank fraud.  The Kansas City Star reports the Crail and the other, unnamed teller worked together at the Central Bank of Kansas City because bank rules require at least two employees enter the bank's vault together.  Prosecutors say that to cover their tracks, Crail and her accomplice falsified the balance sheets for their teller drawers.  According to the charges, Crail and the accomplice took about $390,000 from 2012 until May 2017 before the thefts were discovered.

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Wichita Officer Charged After High-Speed Wreck Injures Man

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer is facing charges after a 71-year-old man was thrown through a windshield after his pickup truck was hit by the officer's car. The Wichita Eagle reports an arrest affidavit released Wednesday says officer Samuel Dugo was speeding to a burglary call without his emergency lights and sirens on a Wichita street before his car hit a pickup truck. Dugo has been charged with felony aggravated battery after the March 16 crash injured Donald Clark of Bel Aire. The arrest affidavit says Dugo's car was going 79 mph when he hit Clark's truck. Prosecutors allege Dugo was driving recklessly that night. Dugo's attorney says the officer's driving was not reckless and consistent with police practices. He also says Dugo tried to take evasive action after Clark's truck drove into its path.

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Olathe Mom Charged with Seeking Hit Man for Ex-Husband

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe woman already charged with trying to kill her three children is now accused of seeking a hit man to kill her ex-husband.  Therese Irene Roever was charged Wednesday with a second attempted capital murder charge for plotting to have an unnamed person kill John Roever.  The Kansas City Star reports 37-year-old Therese Roever was charged in February with attempted capital murder for an alleged attempt on her children's lives. John Roever had residential custody of the children but they were visiting their mother when she and the children were found to have been drugged.  Court documents say doctors told investigators two of the children would have died if they had been found later.  Court documents containing details of the new allegations are not yet publicly available.

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Salina Woman Pleads in LSD-Fueled Knife Attack on a Stranger

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Salina woman has pleaded guilty to charges arising from an incident last year when she entered a stranger's home after using LSD and repeatedly stabbed him.  The Salina Journal reports Amy Ramirez was accused of entering the Salina home of Travis Rathbun on October 18 and stabbing him. Rathbun testified during an April hearing that he was awakened by a woman he didn't know who was demanding to know what he was doing in her house, and she stabbed him as he called police.  Ramirez was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder but pleaded to attempted second-degree murder and a drug charge. The prosecution and defense agreed to recommend Ramirez receive consecutive sentences totaling about nine years.  Ramirez also will have to register as a violent offender for 15 years.

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Man Pleads Guilty to Skimming Bank Information from ATMs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 23-year-old Romanian man in the United States illegally pleaded guilty to placing skimming devices on Kansas City-area ATMs.  The Kansas City Star reports the devices are used to illegally obtain PINS and debit card numbers from people who use the machines. They then transfer the numbers into gift cards.  David Velcu pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of counterfeit or unauthorized access devices.  He was arrested in April after police discovered the devices on ATMs at QuikTrips in Olathe, Kansas, and Riverside, Missouri.  Federal prosecutors said investigators recovered 15 unauthorized access devices, and 78 "re-encoded" magnetic strip gift cards, when Velcu was arrested.  Authorities said Velcu entered the U.S. from Mexico last year.

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Overstock.com Plans Distribution Center in Kansas City Area

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Overstock.com, an online retailer of surplus and new merchandise, plans to operate a large distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas, and employ more than 100 workers there.  The Utah-based company leased 517,000 square feet at a vacant distribution center. The company says the center will allow it to reach 99 percent of its U.S. customers with two-day shipping.  The Kansas City Star reports Overstock.com because another of several large online retailers that opened fulfillment and distribution centers in the Kansas City area in recent years.  Amazon has two fulfillment centers in Edgerton and Kansas City, Kansas. Pharmacy retailer CVS has a distribution center in Kansas City, Missouri.  Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, said the Overstock.com facility in KCK would pay better than average industry wages.

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