Thursday, June 30, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...7-1-'11
- Christopher Cello Smith, 50, of Prestonsburg, who served as vice president of Target Oil and Gas Co. in Albany from 2003 to 2008, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison after being convicted by a federal jury of seven counts of mail fraud last July. He also was sentenced to three years supervised release, a $500 mandatory assessment and a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $3 million. Former Barrackville, W.Va., geologist Ray Garton, 60, was sentenced to five years probation, and six months community confinement followed by six months home incarceration and a $100 mandatory special assessment. Garton pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in September 2009. Both men were involved in luring $13.4 million from hundreds of investors in Kentucky, California, New Jersey and other states by distributing false information about oil and gas investments. Smith gave investors false reports that drilling programs had hit oil and gas. Garton worked with Smith's brother, Michael Smith, former president of Target Oil and Gas, to prepare brochures for potential investors containing false information. Michael D. Smith, 55, of Lancaster was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 11 counts of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Lexington last July. He was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $3.2 million.
- Congressman Hal Rogers joined PRIDE on Tuesday to announce that a record-breaking 33,100 volunteers picked up litter across southern and eastern Kentucky during PRIDE Spring Cleanup Month in April, and he presented trophies to the counties, cities, schools and nonprofit agencies that recruited the most Spring Cleanup volunteers. The Spring Cleanup campaign removed 32,840 bags of trash and 27,513 tons of trash from the region's landscape. Ten tons of junk appliances and 52 tons of other materials were recycled. 203 tons of old tires were gathered for proper disposal.
- A special judge will be appointed to decide whether two teenagers will be tried as adults on charges they hit teacher and state Representative Dewayne Bunch during a fight at Whitley County High School in Williamsburg on April 12th. Whitley County District Judge Cathy E. Prewitt recused herself from the case at the request of attorneys for the teens. It will be about six weeks before a new judge takes the case and can decide how the teens, ages 15 and 16 at the time, will be tried. Bunch is continuing his recovery at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta from a brain injury caused by a punch and fall.
- Kentucky law now allows the sale of fireworks like bottle rockets and Roman Candles. Fireworks retailers are defying an order by the city of Florence not to sell items determined to be illegal in Boone County, but permitted under state legislation passed earlier this year. Rick Lunnemann, Florence city coordinator, says those who are selling the fireworks previously illegal in Kentucky were notified that they are not legal in the city of Florence. Lunnemann says they must cease selling them immediately, and, if they choose not to, they will receive a citation from the code board staff, be required to pay a fine and attend a code board meeting. Some fireworks retailers have indicated they would consider litigation, which could include claims for damages from lost sales, if they were shut down for selling the questionable fireworks.
- After three days of testimony, the unusual hearing into the actions of Kentucky's top racing steward, 66 year old John Veitch, wrapped up Thursday. Veitch is accused of failing to properly enforce the state's racing regulations last fall at the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In that race, second-favorite Life At Ten finished last. Her jockey, John Velazquez, had made comments on television beforehand that she "was not warming up" as she usually did. After a four-month investigation, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted 9-1 in March that there was probable cause that Veitch had violated rules by not investigating potential racing infractions, failing to scratch a horse not in "sound racing conditions" and failing to collect a post-race sample from the horse. Charges also were referred against Velazquez for failing to ride out the horse and for failing to act in the best interest of racing by not taking the horse to a veterinarian to be checked.
- The National Education Association announced Thursday that Governor Steve Beshear is this year's recipient of the America's Greatest Education Governor Award. The annual award recognizes and honors governors who have made major, state-level education strides that improve public schools. Despite repeated budget shortfalls, Beshear has protected the main education funding formula from cuts. During his term, Kentucky has moved into the top 20 in the United States in fourth-grade and eight-grade reading scores. He also signed legislation to make it easier for higher education students to transfer credits from a community or technical college to any of Kentucky's four-year universities.
- A volunteer fireman with the Woodbine Fire Department pleaded guilty earlier this week to setting fire to the Daniel Boone National Forest in Whitley County. Michael Luttrell admitted in U.S. Federal Court in London to setting several fires along the Whipporwill Trail in March, destroying over 100 acres of land. Luttrell faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.
- Thursday afternoon, a Fayette County jury convicted 34 year old Glenn Doneghy of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Lexington Police Officer 27 year old Bryan J. Durman. Durman died in April 2010 after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in a sport utility vehicle as he answered a complaint about loud music. Doneghy was also found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, assault and possession of marijuana and cocaine.
- Kentucky officials say four people were charged Thursday with lottery fraud in a sting designed to catch dishonest retailers. A Jefferson County grand jury handed up the charges against two people in Louisville and two in Lexington, saying they kept scratch-off tickets worth $8,000 and tried to cash them in for prize money after telling customers the tickets weren't winners. Kentucky Lottery CEO Arch Gleason says the charges, believed to be a first in the state, were the result of an operation in which an undercover security person presented 33 retailers with a ticket and asked them to check to see if it was a winner. The person at the store said the ticket wasn't a winner, kept it and later tried to cash it in. Gleason says the stores were targeted because of prior complaints, but the charges against the four people aren't indicative of how the majority of the 2,800 lottery retailers operate.
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