Thursday, February 24, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...2-25-'11
- Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is set to visit West Virginia on Friday as part of a multi-city tour focusing on Appalachia's prescription drug abuse problem. Kerlikowske will join U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and others for discussions in Charleston and Huntington. Kerlikowske and Rockefeller are both scheduled to speak at the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, hosted by Goodwin's office at the University of Charleston. Later, they will hold a roundtable discussion with community members at Marshall University. West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of overdose deaths, with most involving prescription drugs. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of West Virginians who died from accidental overdoses involving prescription drugs increased from 91 to 390.
- State Police say 21 year old Brittany Cantrell was driving an SUV on Beech Creek Road in Mingo County Wednesday afternoon when she hit the rear end of a school bus carrying only the driver. Cantrell, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died from her injuries.
- Stacey Nichole Farmer, of Squire, in McDowell County, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday on charges of child pornography. Farmer pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2010. She admitted that, from February through May 2009, she produced images of an underage girl, who was under her care at the time, engaging in sexually explicit conduct. An investigation of Farmer began when an agent in Alaska came upon an individual involved with child pornography postings of somebody possibly being abused in West Virginia. Authorities determined Farmer was sending the photos to 34 year old Charles Neyhart, of Chugiak, Alaska. In November 2010, Neyhart was sentenced to 30 years in prison on child porn charges. Richard Schweich, 40, of San Jose, California, also was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for his participation in the conspiracy and for producing child porn. Farmer was also sentenced to life on supervised release and ordered to pay $982.53 in restitution to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
- Massey Energy Co. said Thursday it will create a medical monitoring fund to provide health screenings for hundreds of southern West Virginia residents of Rawl, Lick Creek, Sprigg and Merrimac who claim Massey and its subsidiary Rawl Sales & Processing contaminated their water supplies by pumping 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry into worked-out underground mines between 1978 and 1987.
- Sam Littleton, 37, of Bellefontaine, Ohio is fighting extradition as he faces multiple charges in Ohio, including first-degree murder and kidnapping. Littleton is charged with the murder of 26 year old Tiffany Brown and is suspected in the disappearance of Richard and Gladis Russell, who are both in their 80s. The Russell's car was found abandoned at the Princeton Wal-Mart on Tuesday. Littleton was arrested Wednesday morning after he was spotted near a cave in a wooded area behind the Wal-Mart store. Blood residue was found in the passenger compartment and the trunk of the vehicle. Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler ordered Littleton held without bond pending resolution of the extradition. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 21st. Littleton will be held in the Southern Regional Jail until that time. Littleton could remain in West Virginia for up to 90 days.
- As the trial for Clayton "Gino" Rogers continued Wednesday, jurors watched as the state played a video recording of Rogers admitting to slashing the throat of his ex-girlfriend, 35 year old Laura Amos, who was found dead in a pool of blood inside a vacant St. Albans home last summer. In the taped confession, Rogers says he was drinking heavily the day of the murder and snapped, used two knives to slash Amos' throat, then took off and threw the weapons into the woods before hiding from police for two days. The jury started deliberating late Thursday after Clayton "Gino" Rogers admitted to police he killed Laura Amos. If convicted, Rogers could spend life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.
- Kenneth E. Pertillo, also known as "Kid," the last man sentenced in a Georgia-to-Huntington drug ring, has received a three-year, 10-month prison sentence. Pertillo, then 27, pleaded guilty in November 2010 to possessing crack cocaine with an intent to distribute. He signed a stipulation of facts admitting responsibility for trafficking between 22 and 28 grams of crack cocaine. Pertillo admitted that, during his June 12, 2009, arrest, officers found him carrying 5.02 grams of crack cocaine and $1,507 cash.
- Edward Delane Miller, 31, of Beckley, entered a guilty plea to felony bank robbery Wednesday. Police say, on June 7th, Miller entered the First Peoples Bank in Mullens and passed a note to the teller, which stated "Yes this is a robbery & if you do not give me all of your money, you will get your head blown off." The teller handed over $2,607 cash.
- An additional 720 uninsured West Virginia children could receive health-care benefits by 2014 under action endorsed Thursday by the state's Children's Health Insurance board. If the unanimous decision is approved by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, a family of four would be able to earn $67,050 a year and still qualify for benefits. They also must be able to pay $35 a month premium, or co-pay, per child, or a maximum of $71 a month for two children or more. Currently, a family of three earning $46,000 or less qualifies for the program. State lawmakers authorized CHIP in 2006 to expand income eligibility to up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Budget cuts are on the way for the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Thursday, Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants announced cuts to the budget of $223, 875. Plants says he has cut as much as possible from the 2011-2012 budget, and while 27 employees in his office will receive pay cuts, no employees will receive a pay raise. The cuts represent a reduction of 5.8% of the budget. Plants had previously brought a budget before the Kanawha County Commission with $82,000 worth of cuts, but the commission said those cuts were not deep enough.
- Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee shot down House Bill 3265 which would have made it a felony to possess heroine without a valid prescription and called for a 1-15 year prison sentence with up to a $25,000 fine. Kanawha County Delegate Mark Hunt, who was in favor of taking the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, says he understands the jails are overcrowded, but either we're going to get tough on drugs or we're not. Cabell County Delegate Carol Miller, who voted against it, says, while she's not soft on crime, she didn't think this was the right vehicle to deal with the problem. There are four bills in the system now that are dealing with day reporting and making these people go through various forms of rehab and reporting back.
- Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed gambling legislation the West Virginia Lottery and casino operators say is needed to remain competitive with neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, which has slots and table games, while Maryland is opening casinos and Ohio will have slot casinos later this year. Revenue has fallen from a high of $972 million in 2007 to $747 million last year, and are forecast to fall even farther. The bill would make it easier for players to gamble higher amounts at the state's four race tracks and the Greenbrier Resort. It also allocates a percentage of the track revenue for casino capital improvements. Additionally, it would permit off-track simulcast betting on horse races at the Greenbrier. The most controversial part of the bill takes 2.5 percent, about $19 million, from the casinos' annual gross revenue and puts the money in a special fund, which can be matched by the casinos, to pay for improvements, such as new slot machines. Some lawmakers oppose the idea because it would take money away from a number of other funds and programs that get a share of the casino profits.
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