National Roundup

Paychecks to jailed councilman are discontinued

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A northwestern Pennsylvania county executive has ordered the finance director to stop issuing paychecks to a councilman who’s serving a year in federal prison for Social Security fraud.
Erie County Executive Barry Grossman tells the Erie Times News it would be a “gross insult” to taxpayers for 63-year-old Ebert Beeman to continue drawing his $8,779 annual salary when he can’t attend meetings or do county business.
Beeman has refused to resign his office so the district attorney is petitioning the courts to have Beeman removed, but that could take months.
Beeman’s attorney says he’s not sure Grossman has the power to stop the payments while Beeman remains a “sitting councilman.”
Beeman began his sentence in August for using a fraudulent Social Security number to apply for two credit cards and two jobs since 2007.

Man reaches plea agreement in child porn case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Miles City man who is serving a five-year prison sentence for his role in a medical marijuana dispensary that was raided by federal agents has reached a plea agreement in a separate child pornography case.
The Independent Record reports 34-year-old Justin Flor reached an agreement to plead guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in exchange for a recommended 10-year sentence to be served concurrently with his drug sentence.
Court records say Flor knowingly possessed images of child pornography on his cellphone in January.
He is expected to enter the guilty plea in federal court in Billings on Oct. 18. District Judge Richard Cebull does not have to abide by the sentencing recommendations.

Supco upholds homicide verdict in 2009 shooting

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has upheld the deliberate homicide conviction of a Roundup man in the July 2009 shooting death of his neighbor.
Bobby Joe Cooksey argued he did not receive a fair trial in the death of Tracy Beardslee, who was shot while trimming weeds on a private road 12 miles southeast of Roundup.
Cooksey was convicted in September 2010 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The Billings Gazette reports Cooksey’s appeal alleged juror and prosecutorial misconduct, that District Judge Randal Spaulding improperly excluded evidence of Beardslee’s use of antidepressants and that law enforcement failed to properly investigate Cooksey’s claim of self-defense.
The Supreme Court rejected Cooksey’s arguments, but two judges dissented, saying deputies did not adequately investigate Cooksey’s self-defense claim.

Court rejects appeal on sex crime conviction 

AUBURN, Maine (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected the appeal of a former Auburn music teacher convicted of inappropriately touching a young girl.
James Raymond Jr. was convicted in 2010 of two felony counts of transporting a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity and sentenced to 12 years on prison. Authorities say he drove the 11-year-old girl and her 9-year-old sister to a New Hampshire amusement park in 2007 and touched the older girl for sexual gratification.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Wednesday rejected his appeal.
The 31-year-old Raymond’s lawyer said in the appeal that, among other things, the trial judge improperly admitted evidence and didn’t allow proper cross-examination of a police investigator.
The Sun Journal reports that the appeals court rejected those arguments.

New Hampshire
Civil cases put on hold in hepatitis outbreak scandal

EXETER, N.H. (AP) — More than two dozen civil lawsuits filed against Exeter Hospital over its hepatitis C outbreak have been put on hold until early next year.
The Portsmouth Herald reports that a Rockingham County Superior Court judge has granted the hospital’s request to temporarily halt the discovery process. That means hospital officials won’t have to answer questions from the plaintiffs’ attorneys until January, when a structuring conference will be scheduled.
The lawsuits accuse the hospital of negligence in hiring and supervising David Kwiatkowski, a former lab worker charged with stealing drugs from the hospital and replacing them with tainted syringes that were later used on patients. Thirty-two patients in New Hampshire and several in other states where Kwiatkowski previously worked have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.

Court software failure raises new contract concern 

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Three years after the Vermont Judiciary started upgrading its computer system to a web-based case management system, it has little to show for the nearly $2 million that was spent on the project.
The judiciary had been working with a software company to implement a system that would have allowed everyone from state troopers to court clerks to access court information around the clock. But the judiciary pulled out of the contract last year, citing concerns that the software didn’t work.
Court Administrator Bob Greemore tells WCAX-TV that none of the system was salvageable, because the project had to be complete for it to be usable. Lawmakers say the experience highlights the need for greater coordination and a higher level of expertise when it comes to vetting technology contracts.

Rhode Island
Brown opposes delay in trial over sword ownership

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Lawyers for Brown University, which is suing for the return of a ceremonial Civil War-era sword, says in court documents that a trial should not be delayed past mid-March.
The Providence Journal reports that lawyers for defendants Donald and Toni Tharpe of Virginia say in federal court papers they have irreconcilable differences with their clients and cannot prepare for a trial. They’re asking to withdraw as the Tharpes’ lawyers.
Brown University says the Tharpes can find new lawyers in the next few months and it will not agree to the withdrawal of the Tharpes’ lawyers if the trial is later than March 15, 2013.
The school insists it is the rightful owner of a Tiffany silver, 19th century ceremonial sword on loan from the Tharpes.?