National Round Up

Virginia: Husband and wife get jail for student loan scam
ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A Virginia couple has been sentenced for a student loan scam that defrauded lending institutions in Colorado, Massachusetts, Florida and New York.

U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy’s office says 33-year-old Brian Salyer of Lebanon received a 45-month sentence Monday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon. His wife, 30-year-old Miranda Salyer, received a four-month sentence.

The Lebanon couple also must pay $206,454 in restitution.

Brian Salyer pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit fraud and aggravated identity theft. Miranda Salyer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fraud. The couple admitted submitting 15 fraudulent student loan applications to lending institutions in the four states.

Indiana: Ex-pastor gets 12 years-plus on child porn charge
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a former northern Indiana pastor and sheriff’s department chaplain to more than 12 years in prison for distributing child pornography.

Bernard Squires must serve 12 years and seven months in prison and five years on supervised release. Under a plea agreement, U.S. District Judge Theresa Springmann dismissed a charge of possessing child pornography.

The agreement also required the 65-year-old rural Columbia City man to turn over computer equipment.

Squires was arrested last summer after an investigation by an FBI cyber crimes task force. His computer was found to contain at least 10,000 pornographic images and 5,000 videos.

He led a Southern Baptist congregation in Columbia City and volunteered as a Whitley County Sheriff’s Department chaplain.

South Carolina: 4 more former firefighters sue over fatal blaze
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Four more former firefighters are suing because of physical and emotional injuries from a 2007 fire that killed nine South Carolina firefighters.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Tuesday the ex-firefighters are suing Sofa Super Store, its owners and several furniture companies, accusing them of negligence and reckless conduct.

Former captains Kevin Storo, Patrick Sandford, Thomas Buell and firefighter Jerry Winn seek unspecified damages.

The firefighters say the fire left them with “serious and painful” skin rashes and extreme mental and emotional distress. All four men left the fire department on disability retirements.

Four other former firefighters filed similar lawsuits in January.

An attorney for the store, Richard Rosen, would not talk about the lawsuits Monday.

Mississippi: Dismissal of wrongful death lawsuit upheld
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal three-judge panel has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the mother of a Lowndes County man who died during a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies in 2006.

Georgia Maye McCoy had filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the sheriff’s department in 2008.

Her son, Nick Gordon, was killed in 2006 during a confrontation with deputies at an apartment complex.

A Mississippi federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2009. A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the lawsuit’s dismissal.

The appeals court panel says there was no evidence that deputies used excessive force in shooting Gordon during a fight in which Gordon was attacked officers with a nail gun.

Idaho: Suit challenges secret tax deals
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lawmaker from northern Idaho is suing the state, saying secret tax deals allow wealthy residents with political connections to get millions of dollars in tax breaks.

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, filed the lawsuit in Boise’s 4th District Court on Monday, The Spokesman-Review reported. Ringo said the deals violate the Idaho Constitution, which requires taxing to be uniform.

In the lawsuit, Ringo doesn’t name any of the recipients of the alleged tax breaks. But one wealthy Idaho resident was given a $1.6 million break, and a tax commissioner reversed an audit adjustment for a friend who is prominent in Idaho politics, she said.

Ringo names the Idaho Legislature, the state Tax Commission and all four tax commissioners — Chairman Royce Chigbrow, Tom Katsilometes, Sam Haws and David Langhorst — in the lawsuit. She is represented by former Idaho Supreme Court justice and former Democratic candidate for governor Robert Huntley.

Idaho Attorney General’s office spokeswoman Kriss Bivens-Cloyd said attorneys for the state and the Tax Commission are still reviewing the lawsuit and have no immediate comment.

Ringo said the cases cited in the lawsuit are appalling.

“If those things have been going on, it just speaks to the need for reforms,” Ringo said. “I would put in on the emergency status, because I don’t want to accuse anybody of being corrupt, but I think it bears looking into.”

The lawsuit echoes some claims made two years ago by retired state tax auditor Stan Howland, who submitted a whistleblower report to lawmakers in 2008. In his report, Howland contended that the commission illegally settles income tax protests by large corporations, thus shorting the state millions of dollars. At the time, the Tax Commission denied the allegations in the report, and two state investigations concluded that no laws had been broken, though they did recommend reforms to the settlement process.

Virginia: Feds sue two companies, allege kickbacks
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A federal lawsuit accuses a Chesapeake company of paying thousands of dollars in kickbacks to a defense contractor in exchange for contracts.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges in the lawsuit that employees of Superior Air Freight provided 341 gifts between 2000 and 2006, including golf trips, vacation homes and concert tickets. The lawsuit seeks a $100,000 penalty for each kickback, or about $3.4 million.

Superior Air Freight, its parent company, Givens Air Freight of Chesapeake, and two employees are named as defendants. The lawsuit was filed last month in U.S. District Court.

The defendants’ attorney, Hunter W. Sims Jr., denied any wrongdoing.

The contractor wasn’t identified.

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