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Headlines for Thursday, February 15, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

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. It also could spur interest in state tax cuts.  But Democratic state Rep. 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.

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Man Facing Deportation to Bangladesh Moved to Kansas City

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 moved from Hawaii 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 pm 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 to keep him in jail, or send him somewhere else.

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Former White House Fellow Enters Race for 3rd District Seat

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City attorney who served as a White House fellow during President Barack Obama's administration is seeking the Democratic nomination for a Kansas congressional seat currently held by Republican Representative Kevin Yoder. Sharice Davids, of Shawnee, announced her candidacy Thursday for the 3rd Congressional District seat. She is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and spent time working as a legal counsel on a reservation in South Dakota before her stint at the White House. Her campaign announcement noted that if elected she would be the first female Native American to serve in Congress and the first openly gay member of the Kansas delegation. Democrats are targeting Yoder because Hillary Clinton carried the district in the 2016 presidential race. Five other Democrats also are running.

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Kansas Congressional Candidate Won't Stop AR-15 Raffle

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas congressional hopeful does not plan to stop a raffle for an AR-15 rifle, even though it's the type of weapon authorities said was used in the mass shooting at a Florida high school. Republican Tyler Tannahill, a candidate in Kansas's 2nd Congressional District, announced the raffle to support his campaign on Tuesday, a day before 17 people were killed in the Florida shooting. He told The Kansas City Star hours after the shooting that the raffle would continue, noting it was planned a month ago to coincide with the Kansas Republican Convention this weekend in Wichita. Tannahill, a veteran Marine from Leavenworth, is among several people in the GOP primary race to replace U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins, who is not seeking re-election. He said the raffle was intended to show his support for the Second Amendment. "No individual is for school shootings. It's heartbreaking ... being a parent, our thoughts on that, for me personally, I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment," Tannanhill said. "I think we need to have a discussion of what can be done and throwing out comments of displeasure isn't going to solve it." Hours after the Florida shooting Wednesday, Tannahill posted on social media that he and his wife were "heartbroken to learn of the tragedy" and shared a link to a nonprofit called FASTER, which gives teachers and school staffers violence response training. "We're not trying to raise money off the school shooting," Tannahill told The Star. "We do want to find a solution and I think this FASTER program is something we can look into implementing." The raffle will go on despite generally negative reactions on his website, with several comments asking Tannahill to end the raffle, calling it "tone deaf" and "ridiculous." The raffle rules state participants must be 18 or older and meet all legal requirements to purchase and own a firearm. Tannahill said the winner will be required to go into a store where the gun is on layaway and must pass federal background checks before the gun can be released. In September, a Missouri candidate for U.S. Senate, Austin Petersen, was banned from Facebook for 30 days for livestreaming a raffle to give away an AR-15.

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Kansas Bill Would Legalize Sex Between Some Young Teens

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sex among some young Kansas teens would no longer be illegal under proposed legislation. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas prohibits sex with anyone younger than 16, even if both people are the same age. That means sexual intercourse between a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old is considered a felony under current law. A proposal before a House committee would change that. Democratic Representative Boog Highberger, of Lawrence, said the bill he proposed attempts to correct "draconian penalties under current law." One parent testified about her son being charged after kissing and touching a 13-year-old girl. The teens were 55 days apart in age. But Republican Representative John Whitmer, of Wichita, raised concerns that the bill would go too far in loosening penalties for young adults who have sex with teens.

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Pennsylvania Man the 7th Teen to Enter Kansas Governor Race

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The field of teenage candidates running for Kansas governor has grown to seven, and the latest contender isn't even from the state. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 18-year-old Conner Shelton, a University of Delaware student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was inspired to enter the race when a man launched a short-lived campaign for his dog, Angus. Elections officials put the brakes on the dog's candidacy, but Kansas doesn't have an age or residency requirement, which lawmakers are seeking to change. Six other teens have entered the race, but Shelton is the first who isn't from Kansas. The chemical engineering major described his candidacy as "an experiment of sorts." In addition to the teens running for governor, a teen is running for Kansas secretary of state.

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Man Sentenced to 41 Years in Kansas Deputy's Abduction, Rape

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to 41 years and three months in prison for kidnapping and raping a suburban Kansas City sheriff's deputy with the help of another man. The Kansas City Star reports that 26-year-old William Luth, of Blue Springs, Missouri, was sentenced Thursday after the prosecutor read a statement from the deputy in which she described "two hours of hell." The deputy wasn't in uniform when she was abducted in October 2016 from the parking lot of a detention center in Olathe, Kansas, while headed to work. She was released in the Missouri suburb of Lee's Summit. Charges in the attack also are pending against Brady Newman-Caddell. Luth and Newman-Caddell also are charged with sexual assaulting a Missouri woman while her 2-year-old daughter was in the same bed.

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University of Kansas Moves Forward with Dental School Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is moving forward with a plan to establish a dental school despite a key legislative committee recently deciding not to approve funding to launch such a school.The Lawrence Journal-World reports Chancellor Douglas Girod announced Wednesday that the university will continue preliminary planning work on launching a dental school at the Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kansas.Former Governor Sam Brownback proposed adding $3 million to the Kansas Board of Regents' budget for the upcoming fiscal year to begin construction on the dental school. But the House Higher Education Budget Committee voted last week to strip that money from the draft budget, citing concerns about making the commitment while not in a financial place to do so. There are currently no dental schools in Kansas.

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University of Kansas Repays State $7.1M for Overbilling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has reimbursed the state for more than $7.1 million after auditors concluded last year that its social welfare school overbilled the state's Medicaid program for services. Chancellor Douglas Girod formally notified Governor Jeff Colyer and other state officials of the reimbursement this week in a letter that the university released to The Associated Press. The letter said the repayment occurred in January, and Tim Keck, the state's secretary for aging and disability services said in an interview that the money would be returned to the federal government. "Once they discovered it, however they discovered it, they were above-board and very concerned about it," Keck said. The university had outside auditors review contracts with the Department for Aging and Disability Services after the state agency and the university's Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation failed to agree on the terms of an annual contract in mid-2016. The center — which closed after losing the contract in dispute — was part of the university's School of Social Welfare. Its Medicaid work included training for community mental health centers. Medicaid provides health coverage for more than 370,000 poor, disabled and elderly Kansas residents. Having faculty and staff work on Medicaid projects allowed the school and the center to receive federal funds through the state. Auditors concluded that many faculty and staff "did not have an accurate understanding" of what was required to charge their time to Medicaid, resulting in overpayments during a six-year period, starting in July 2010. Girod's letter also said the university "initiated several personnel actions." University spokesman Joe Monoco declined in an email to name which employees were disciplined or specifically whether they had been fired or faced other sanctions, but he called the response "aggressive." Monoco also said the university is covering the reimbursement with a loan from its Endowment Association and that returning the funds is likely to affect the university's ability to hire staff "in key areas," maintain aging equipment and buildings and "retain faculty who receive competitive offers from other institutions." The failure of talks in 2016 between the state agency and the university research center over what was then an annual contract of less than $2 million roiled the state's mental health system. The public disagreement was mostly over the department's attempt to move toward setting hourly rates for work done by the center's 16-person staff. According to Girod's letter, the university received information in 2015 that the School of Social Welfare "may have overstated faculty and staff time" in receiving Medicaid funds, and it conducted an internal audit. The university followed up last year by having two auditing firms review more than 20 contracts dating back to 2008.

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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.  Sgt. 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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Juvenile Corrections Head Reassigned over Battery Allegation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Corrections has reassigned the superintendent of the state's juvenile corrections complex after he allegedly grabbed and shoved a female worker. The agency announced Thursday that Kyle Rohr is reassigned to the central office until his criminal case is resolved. The Topeka city prosecutor's office said Rohr has been issued a citation on a charge of battery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Rohr is accused of twice grabbing a female employee at the Topeka juvenile complex and shoving her into a cubicle. Rohr reportedly was upset with the planning of a holiday event for incarcerated juveniles. More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers called Thursday for Rohr's firing. The corrections department said Megan Milner, director of community-based services in the agency, would be acting superintendent of the complex.

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Trio of Wrongfully Convicted Kansans Seek Compensation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three men who were exonerated after spending a combined 55 years behind bars want the state to create a system for compensating the wrongly convicted.  Floyd Bledsoe, Lamonte McIntyre and Richard Jones pleaded Wednesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee to endorse a bill that would pay exonerees $80,000 for each year of imprisonment minus civil judgments resulting from lawsuits. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bill would require conviction and arrest records related to these cases to be expunged.  Bledsoe was freed in 2015 after spending more than 15 years in prison for a homicide his brother confessed to committing before killing himself. McIntyre served 23 years for a Kansas City, Kansas, double homicide and Jones 17 years for a suburban Kansas City robbery before they were freed last year.

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Topeka Man Wants to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Beating Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to killing a Topeka man with a baseball bat wants to withdraw his plea. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 37-year-old Arthur Lee Ford IV, of Topeka, asked Wednesday to withdraw his plea after realizing he could spend nearly 50 years in prison, rather than about 23. Ford accepted the plea deal in October to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 52-year-oldl Mark Everett Johnson. Prosecutors say Johnson was killed during a break-in at his apartment. At the time, Ford's attorney told him he likely would be sentenced to about 23 years in prison. Instead, the sentence could be 49 years because Ford has a stronger criminal history than originally believed. The motion to withdraw Ford's plea will be heard March 22.

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Former Pittsburg State Professor Arrested for Third Time 

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — One of the two former Pittsburg State University associate professors arrested for stalking and breach of privacy last year has been arrested again. Pittsburg police say 47-year-old Peter Rosen was arrested Wednesday on charges of stalking and violations of a protection from stalking order. He was released on $2,000 bond. The Pittsburg Morning-Sun reports Rosen has been arrested three times since a search in December found illegal videotaping of someone who was nude or nearly nude. Rosen, former associate professor and chairman of Accounting and Computer Information Systems, also was arrested in November on a misdemeanor stalking charge. All three arrests involve the same person. Barry Wilson, former associate professor and chairman of Graphics and Imaging Technology, was arrested at the same time as Rosen in December. He was released on $2,000 bond.

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KCK Killing Investigated as Self-Defense

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a deadly shooting in Kansas City, Kansas, as a possible case of self-defense. The Kansas City Star reports that 48-year-old Jarrod O'Donnell was killed late Saturday. His ex-fiancee, Misty Bartlett, says she was home with a friend and her 8-year-old son when O'Donnell shattered a sliding glass door and attacked her. The friend in the home eventually shot and killed O'Donnell, an act that Bartlett said was in self-defense. Police Detective Cameron Morgan says initial information in the case points to a self-defense shooting, adding that O'Donnell died from multiple wounds to his abdomen. But he stressed that the investigation is ongoing. Morgan says he believed O'Donnell had recently moved out of the house.

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French Auto Technology Supply Plant to Open Near Kansas City
 
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — A French automotive technology supplier plans to open a $60 million production facility and bring 300 jobs to the Kansas City area. Faurecia Interior announced Thursday that it will open a plant in Blue Springs. The company develops and makes interior vehicle and emissions components. Faurecia used to have a location in Riverside with as many as 300 employees but it closed. The Kansas City Star reports a company spokesman said the Blue Springs location is not a relocation of the Riverside operation, because different Faurecia Interior facilities serve different customers and components. The news comes after the Kansas City region has endured closings of the Harley Davidson motorcycle facility and Procter & Gamble's plant in Kansas City, Kansas, so far this year.

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Topeka Man Sentenced for 2 Killings; 1 Was Dismembered 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man will spend more than 50 years in prison for the slayings of two men, one of whom was dismembered. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 63-year-old Maximo Campillo-Echevarria was sentenced Thursday for the September deaths of 61-year-old Thomas Paul O'Conner and 22-year-old Chance Christian Crank, who was dismembered. He was sentenced to 51 years for O'Conner's death and a concurrent term of nearly 13 years for Crank's death. O'Conner was found suffering from stab wounds at an apartment building in September. At the same time, firefighters found Crank's dismembered body while extinguishing a fire at Campillo-Echevarria's nearby apartment. Campillo-Echevarria was convicted in 1981 of first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Pedro Machado. He was paroled from a life sentence in 2000. Campillo-Echevarria fled Cuba in the 1980 Mariel boat lift.

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Rural Banker Survey Suggests Economic Outlook Improving

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of rural bankers in 10 Plains and Western states suggests an improved economic outlook. A report released Thursday says the Rural Mainstreet Index rose to its highest reading since May 2014, reaching 54.8 in February. January's figure was 46.8, and December's was 47.8. Survey organizers say any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the solid February figure surprised him, given that only about a quarter of the bankers reported growth in their areas. Nonetheless, the confidence index jumped to 52.4 from 46.7 in January. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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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 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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Former Kansas Deputy Charged with Official Misconduct 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy who's accused of not turning over evidence during a narcotics investigation has been charged with official misconduct. The Wichita Eagle reports that the charge was filed Tuesday against Justin Price, whose four-year tenure with the department ended a couple weeks ago. Sheriff Jeff Easter says a resident involved in the narcotics investigation raised concerns in December. The Wichita Police Department investigated the complaint against Price. Easter described the allegations as an isolated incident. His attorney, Steven Mank, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Thursday.

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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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Immigration Agent Pleads Guilty in Kansas Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An agent with 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 taken into custody at Wednesday's change-of-plea hearing after a federal judge found there were no conditions that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or Pleviak's compliance with bond requirements.  A probable cause affidavit released in January shows KAKE-TV anchor Deb Farris told police that Pleviak was sending her sensitive law enforcement material and texting messages that were sexual in nature. Police photographed about 185 screenshots of text messages between them.  Farras has said Pleviak was texting her things that made her uncomfortable and scared her.  Sentencing has been set for May 2.

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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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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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