Headlines for Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Kansas Allowing Concealed Guns in Statehouse Without Permit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Visitors to the Kansas Statehouse can bring concealed guns into the historic building without a state permit under a new state law. The Wichita Eagle reports that the new law took effect July 1. It ended a requirement for residents 21 and older to obtain a state permit to carry concealed firearms. The state last year began allowing people to carry concealed guns into the Statehouse if they had a permit.Ending the permit requirement means someone no longer must undergo a background check or complete eight hours of firearms training to carry a concealed gun. Supporters of the new law said Kansas residents should be able to exercise their constitutionally protected right to own and carry guns in the Statehouse. Critics have safety concerns.
KS Gov Issues Order to Protect Gay Marriage Foes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued an executive order aimed at protecting clergy, religious leaders and religious groups from being penalized by the state for opposing same-sex marriage. Brownback issued the order yesterday (TUE). It said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month legalizing gay marriage across the nation has the potential to infringe upon religious liberties. The state and U.S. constitutions protect religious liberties, and Kansas enacted a law in 2013 saying that state and local agencies can't substantially limit someone's exercise of religion without a compelling reason. But the order says state agencies can't alter contracts with individuals or religious groups, change their tax status or deny them licenses or tax breaks based on their refusal to perform same-sex marriages or provide services for such marriages.
Sheriff: Inmate Orchestrated Drug Deals over Jail Pay Phone
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas sheriff says a tip that a jail inmate was orchestrating drug deals using the facility's pay phone system has led to the arrest of three people and seizure of more than a pound of methamphetamine. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir says calls from inmates at the county jail are recorded and both parties are warned about the recordings. A detective monitored the calls and search warrants were executed Tuesday at three addresses in Ellinwood and Great Bend. The sheriff says 1.5 pounds of meth with a street value of $50,000 were found at the three locations. A 26-year-old Great Bend woman, 32-year-old Great Bend man and an inmate at the Barton County jail are facing various drug charges. Bellendir says further arrests are anticipated.
Kansas AG Named to National Group's New Panel
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has been appointed to a committee established by the national group for state attorneys general to study legal issues surrounding agriculture. Schmidt's office said his membership was confirmed Tuesday for the new National Association of Attorneys General panel. The Republican attorney general is a former chairman of the Kansas Senate Agriculture Committee and served in the Senate for 10 years before being elected to the statewide office in 2010.Schmidt is the national association's vice chairman. He's also served as its Midwest regional chairman, co-chairman of its consumer protection committee and co-chairman of a committee on combatting human trafficking. The national association's Agricultural Committee is led by Democrat Tom Miller of Iowa and Republican Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas.
Kansas, Missouri Governors Differ in Gay Marriage Responses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback described the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage as a potential threat to religious liberties. Meanwhile, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called the decision an important step toward creating a fairer society. Advocates on both sides of the issue and the border Wednesday noted the sharp contrast in the neighboring governors' responses in the form of executive orders the day before. Brownback's order told Kansas government agencies that they can't punish ministers or religious groups for opposing same-sex marriage. His order said the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month could limit religious liberties. Nixon's order directs Missouri state agencies to take all necessary measures to comply with the decision. He called on his state's lawmakers to expand anti-discrimination laws to cover gays and lesbians.
FTC Announces Settlement in Payday Lending Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Operators of a Kansas City-area based payday lending scheme are banned from offering loans under a settlement that would wipe away outstanding debts. The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Tuesday with business owners Timothy Coppinger and Frampton Rowland. Combined, the men operated more than a dozen companies in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Kansas towns of Prairie Village and Mission. The FTC says the business deposited money into the accounts of payday loans seekers without their permission. The FTC also alleged that recurring charges were withdrawn without any of the payments going toward the principal. Rowland's attorney said in an email to The Associated Press that his client had voluntarily ceased consumer lending before the FTC filed the case. Coppinger's attorney said his client didn't want to comment.
Shooting at Overland Park Duplex Kills Woman, Wounds Girl
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) _ A woman was killed and a girl was wounded after someone fired several shots into a suburban Kansas City duplex on the same block where two young men were fatally shot last week. Police were called just before 6:30 pm Monday to an Overland Park, Kansas, residence where a woman was fatally wounded. Officers also found an 11-year-old girl with nonlife-threatening injuries. Police later identified the dead woman as 36-year-old Quaushey L. Harris. Police say there were nine people inside the duplex at the time of the shooting, including seven children. They say a suspect fled in a gray Pontiac Grand Prix. Police also say the shooting has been linked a double homicide that occurred last week on the same street.
Salina Man Sentenced to 66 Years in Prison for 2 Killings
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina man has been sentenced to more than 66 years in prison after being convicted of fatally shooting two men in one week in 2009.The Salina Journal reports 34-year-old Willie J. Parker was sentenced Tuesday to 66 years and four months in prison. Parker was convicted in May of second-degree murder for the slayings of 24-year-old Alfred Mack Jr. and 22-year-old Justin Letourneau. Parker had been previously convicted and sentenced to more than 81 years in prison for the killings in an earlier trial. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed those convictions in December, citing errors that occurred in Parker's trial including the exclusion of certain testimony, faulty jury instruction and inadequate investigation of a juror's allegation of misconduct by other jurors.
Ex-School Safety Chief a "No Show" for Trial in Child Sex Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A former Wichita school safety supervisor and police officer accused of molesting boys in Kansas has been found guilty of similar sexual assault charges in Colorado. A judge issued a warrant Monday for Alex Robinson's arrest after he failed to show up for trial on eight child sexual assault charges in Wichita because he was in custody in the Colorado case. District Attorney Marc Bennett says Robinson was convicted Thursday in Colorado on two counts of sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust, and will be sentenced there October 13. Robinson will be sent back to Wichita if he posts the bond in the Colorado case. His attorney did not immediately return Tuesday voice and email messages.
Hutchinson Vietnam Veteran's Wheelchair Stolen
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A 350-pound wheelchair belonging to a Vietnam veteran has been stolen from the front porch of his Hutchinson home. Jerry Josephson, a Vietnam War veteran, had one leg amputated earlier this year. The $4,000 wheelchair he used to get around was stolen Friday off his porch, where he left it locked. Josephson had recently been given the motorized chair by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Josephson, a local barber, says he's waiting to see if the VA will replace the wheelchair or if his homeowners insurance will cover the loss. He also says he'd appreciate it if the thieves just brought the chair back in the same condition they found it.
Wichita Attorney Convicted of Tax Evasion Totaling $1M
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita attorney has been convicted of evading federal income taxes between 1998 and 2008 totaling more than $1 million. According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, 67-year-old Eldon Boisseau was convicted Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. Grissom said Boisseau evaded taxes by putting his law firm in the name of another attorney.According to the release, Boisseau also attempted to evade a trust fund recovery penalty in connection to two periods in 1999. Boisseau faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 28.
Joplin Business Owner Gets 3 Years in Prison for Selling K2
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to three years in prison for mail fraud conspiracy and money laundering related to the sale of more than $1 million worth of synthetic marijuana known as K2 through his business in Joplin. The Joplin Globe reports 54-year-old Timmy J. Ridgway of Weir, Kansas, was sentenced Tuesday in Springfield. Prosecutors said Ridgway , who operated The Looking Glass shop, distributed K2 through his business even though he marketed his products as incense "not intended for human consumption." According to court documents, K2 products were sent to Ridgway's shop 80 times between December 2011 and March 2013 from Ohio and California. Ridgway was ordered to forfeit about $286,000, his business in Joplin, a residential property in Pittsburg, Kansas, and the funds seized from his business and bank accounts on March 4.
House Panel Subpoenas Kerry on Keystone XL Documents
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel has issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry for department documents, reports and letters related to the contentious push to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced the subpoena on Wednesday. The $8 billion pipeline would transport oil harvested from Canada's tar sands to pipelines linked to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, Congress approved legislation to build the pipeline and sent the measure to President Barack Obama. The president vetoed the bill and the GOP-run Senate failed to override the veto in March. Obama has said that the bill circumvented the well-established process for approving cross-border pipelines, which must be determined to be in the national interest.
Blue Bell to Begin Trial Runs at Alabama Plant
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Blue Bell is beginning a trial run of ice cream production at its Alabama plant after a national recall that followed a series of listeria illnesses. Alabama Health Officer Don Williamson said Wednesday the company notified the department that it will begin a trial run of production later this month. The ice cream will not be sold to consumers. Williamson says both state health officials and Blue Bell will test the product for listeria. The company issued a national recall and shut down production after the company's ice cream was linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, and three deaths in Kansas. The contaminated products have been found at the company's Texas and Oklahoma plants, but so not at its Sylacauga, Alabama, facility.
Ex-Labette County Bank Clerk Pleads Guilty to Stealing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A former bank clerk in Labette County has pleaded guilty to a stealing from several accounts at the bank. Federal prosecutors in Wichita say 41-year-old Angela S. Littlejohn pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of embezzlement. In her plea, Littlejohn of Chetopa admits to stealing at least $82,000 from several bank accounts while she worked as a teller during 2013 and 2014 at the Chetopa State Bank in Chetopa. She's scheduled to be sentenced September 28.
Hallmark Cards Plans to Hire 400 Workers in Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Hallmark Cards says it plans to add about 400 employees over the next year at its distribution plant in Liberty, Missouri. About 570 employees in Enfield, Connecticut, were told Tuesday their jobs will end in the next few months. The company says the moves will consolidate its warehouse and distribution operations.
Wichita Approves $2.2 Million for Police Body Camera System
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wichita City Council has approved buying a $2.2 million body camera system for the police department. The city council on Tuesday unanimously approved the contract to buy the camera system. The contract includes licensing fees and data storage in the first year for $712,000; and licensing and data storage fees of $360,000 for the following four years. Captain Brian White says the police department is seeking federal grants and plans to also use towing and narcotics seizure funds to help offset costs. The intention is for all patrol officers to have the cameras by the end of the year.
Kansas Ethanol Processors Rename Trade Group
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas ethanol processors have announced a new name they say better reflects their trade group's mission to promote ethanol as a renewable fuel good for the state's consumers, the environment and economy. The Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors said in a news release Tuesday that it is now calling itself Renew Kansas. The name change comes along with a new logo and website. Tom Willis, the CEO of Conestoga Energy Partners in Liberal, is chairman of the trade group's board. He says the group looks forward to expanding its reach with the new identity and growing the organization to meet future energy needs.
Bond Increase for Kansas Man Charged with Molestation
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County judge has increased the bond for a suburban Kansas City music teacher accused of molesting students. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Sean Dow of Overland Park, Kansas, is charged in two cases with sexually assaulting four students at a Shawnee music store where he taught. He fled from house arrest last month and was arrested five days later in California. He has since been returned to Johnson County. On Wednesday, his bond was increased to $750,000 in each case. In the request to increase Dow's bond, prosecutors said Dow left a note when he fled indicating he was trying to "permanently avoid prosecution for these offenses." A hearing on a request to consolidate the charges into one case is also scheduled for August 12.
Preliminary Report Says Missouri Crash Occurred During Stunt
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A preliminary federal report shows that a fatal plane crash at a northwest Missouri air show occurred during a planned aerobatic maneuver. The crash June 27 at the air show in Cameron killed the pilot, 50-year-old Steven O'Berg, from Smithville, Missouri. He was flying a Christen Industries Pitts S-2B used for stunts. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the National Transportation Safety Board says preliminary information shows the pilot planned to do 10 aerobatic maneuvers during the flight. O'Berg completed eight maneuvers, and crashed during the ninth. The report doesn't detail the cause of the crash. It says the airplane pitched down and tumbled twice before entering a left spin and completing about two and a half revolutions before crashing. The NTSB's full report will take about a year.
Royals Take Both Games from Rays in Doubleheader
The Kansas City Royals took both games of yesterday's (TUE) doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the opening game, the Royals got a Grand Slam in the ninth, beating the Rays 9-5. In the second game, the Royals cruised to a 7-to-1 victory.
Royals, Cardinals Form Alliance for All-Star Final Vote
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, bitter cross-state rivals, have forged an unlikely alliance to get their final vote candidates into the All-Star Game. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez are among the five candidates in their respective league. Fan voting will determine who makes the roster. The regional sports networks for each team are promoting the alliance, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Wednesday that fans should vote "so there is as much Royals blue and Cardinals red on the field next week in Cincinnati as possible." The Royals already have six players on the American League roster, including four starters. The Cardinals have five on the National League roster, two of them starters.