Thursday, May 19, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-20-'11
- Phelps Elementary teachers and parents fought 14 years for a new school to replace the current building considered a Category Five, which is one of the worst in the state. Pike County Superintendent Roger Wagner says the School Board is receiving $60 million from the state to build a new Phelps Elementary, along with new facilities in Virgie, Millard, and Pond Creek. Thursday, officials held a groundbreaking for a new $15 million school to be built next to Phelps High School, where the football field is now located. Construction will begin Monday, and the new school is expected to be finished and open in the fall of 2012. The current building will be torn down and a new football field and athletic facility will be built on that site.
- Richmond, Va.-based James River Coal Co. says its subsidiary Leeco Inc. in Perry County has received an imminent danger order issued by federal inspectors. The company says workers at Leeco's 64 preparation plant used a personnel hoist basket that had not been approved for use. Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors issued the order last Friday after observing a contractor lowering two workers to the ground in the basket. The filing says the contractor did not have certification that the hoisting system was properly designed. The report was filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
- In federal court in London Thursday, 51 year old Abby Vicky Paul told U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove that she helped former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge embezzle and launder $222,914 from several accounts while she worked as a bookkeeper in the the sheriff's office. Paul admitted she altered records related to property tax payments in order to create a false surplus of money in the department's tax account. At the end of a reporting period, Hodge and Paul took a portion of the excess money. Paul is scheduled for sentencing September 1st. Hodge, who pleaded guilty last week to money laundering, extortion and drug distribution charges, is set for sentencing August 25th.
- Forty-four year old Colonel Bolen pleaded not guilty Thursday morning after being indicted on charges of attempted murder. Police say Bolen opened fire in the J & J General Store parking lot in the Gunlock community of Magoffin County, near the Floyd County line, in February, shooting three people. Officials with the Floyd Co. Detention Center identified one of the victims, Sharon Smith, as their employee. Bolen was an inmate at the Floyd County Detention Center several times from 2004 to 2009. Lonnie Dillon was shot at least twice. The third victim was an out of state traveler seeking directions. Bolen's bond remains at $500,000. A hearing will be set to determine if Bolen is competent for trial. The motive for the shooting remains a mystery.
- A Pulaski County Jury deliberated for two and half hours Thursday before sentencing Peggy Mina to life without parole. She was also sentenced to 20 years each on burglary and robbery charges. Mina and her nephew Raphael Robinson both pleaded guilty in the killing of 72 year old Homer Carrender in 2009. Mina pleaded guilty last March to complicity to commit murder, avoiding a possible death penalty. Robinson is already serving a life sentence.
- Attorney General Jack Conway appeared in Franklin Circuit Court Thursday seeking a court order requiring Marathon Petroleum Co. to restore prices it charged shortly before Governor Steve Beshear issued an emergency declaration on April 26th and a temporary injunction preventing Marathon from further price hikes. The law allows price increases as long as they relate to comparably higher costs. Peter Ashton, a petroleum industry expert for the Attorney General’s office, testified nearly three hours, saying Marathon raised prices by as much 30 cents a gallon after the declaration and reaped “significant” profits. Ashton said Marathon gas prices averaged $3.13 a gallon in the 30 days before the declaration and rose to a peak level of $3.53 afterward, while prices for crude oil remained constant or fell. Ramsey Shehadeh, an economic and regulatory expert for Marathon, countered that prices are based on market conditions in the area around Chicago, a regional trade and distribution hub for gasoline. Shehadeh pointed to decreases in gas prices that began May 11th, two days before Conway filed the motion, and other data showing that prices were similar to those charged in April and May during past years. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate expects to issue a ruling within the next week.
- The state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday Kentucky death row inmate 69 year old John Roscoe Garland can have hair taken from the scene of a 1997 triple slaying tested for DNA because the evidence has potential value to his case. Garland was sentenced to death February 15, 1999, in the shooting deaths of Willa Jean Ferrier, Crystal Conaster and Chris Boswell, whose bodies were found in a mobile home in Whitley City. Much of the case against Garland was based on the testimony of his son, Roscoe Garland, who told Kentucky State Police his father confronted Ferrier, a former romantic interest, because she was dating someone else. Roscoe Garland told police his father shot Boswell and Conaster during a fight. After a few minutes, Ferrier returned from another room and was shot. Roscoe Garland acknowledged helping his father cover up evidence by burning clothing and hiding the weapon, a .357 magnum. KSP found a clump of blackish-brown hair in Ferrier's hand. Boswell's hair, along with that Roscoe Garland, was brown. John Garland had silver-gray hair. John Garland's attorneys argued at trial that their client wasn't at the trailer and that Roscoe Garland, who has an extensive criminal history, committed the killings.
- Mitchell Sivina, of Doral, Florida, has been sentenced to 31 months in federal prison after being convicted in Mississippi for his role in a multistate cigarette smuggling operation. Sivina pleaded guilty a year ago to money laundering and transporting stolen cigarettes. Prosecutors say Sivina acted as a broker between people who stole about $2 million worth of cigarettes and met him at a Walton, Kentucky parking lot in 2006 and wholesalers who bought them in Mississippi and Kentucky. Federal prosecutors say Sivina's assistance helped them make cases against numerous others involved in the tobacco scheme.
- In a 5-2 split, the state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday a requirement that sex offenders in Kentucky register their address with law enforcement cannot be enforced retroactively. The high court found that anyone convicted of a sex offense before 1994 cannot be forced to give his or her address to law enforcement officials. The ruling comes in the case of 37 year old Anthony Nash of Lexington, who was initially convicted of two counts of third-degree sodomy on December 14, 1993, just months before Kentucky enacted its sex offender registration requirements. The high court ruled the 1994 law didn't apply to Nash because his conviction came before it was passed. A grand jury in Fayette County charged Nash in January 2007 with failing to register his address. Nash pleaded guilty in August 2007 and received a five-year sentence. Nash, who is in Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, is currently scheduled for release June 18, 2016. Ed Monahan, who heads Kentucky's public defender office, says the ruling should prompt Nash's immediate release. Shelley Catherine Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky attorney general's office, said the office is reviewing the ruling.
- Pulaski and McCreary counties are facing mounting legal bills resulting from an unsuccessful fight to post copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. The case dates back to 1999 when officials in both counties posted copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses in Somerset and Whitley City. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky sued the counties, arguing the displays were a violation of the First Amendment. The civil rights organization won the case, and now the counties owe a total of $456,881 in attorney fees and costs to the ACLU...not including mounting interest. There is an option to appeal at least part of the amount, and the counties could seek to negotiate a lower settlement.
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