Court Roundup

South Dakota: Former teacher pleads not guilty to sex charges
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A former middle school teacher in Sioux Falls has pleaded not guilty to 25 rape charges involving two students.

The Argus Leader reports that Nicolas Jastorff appeared in Minnehaha County court on Tuesday. Jastorff also faces separate charges in Lincoln County.

Court documents say the 26-year-old former Patrick Henry Middle School teacher had a sexual relationship with two 13-year-old girls in a classroom, at his Harrisburg home, and at the home of one of the girls.

He is being held on a $500,000 cash bond.

Maine: Man claiming to be gov. sentenced for tax evasion
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A 42-year-old Maine man’s claim that he was governor so he didn’t have to pay taxes didn’t save him from a conviction on a tax evasion charge.

Attorney General Janet Mills says Joseph Darling of West Gardiner was sentenced to 21 days in jail and ordered to pay $11,388 in restitution of state incomes taxes he owes for the years 2004 through 2007.

At his sentencing hearing in Augusta District Court, Darling claimed he didn’t have to pay taxes because he was governor of Maine.

Mills notes that even if Darling were governor, he would still have to pay income tax on his state salary.

Connecticut: Fake ‘Nurse of the Year’ sentenced to nine months in jail

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — A Danbury woman who pretended to be a nurse and even spent $2,000 to throw a “Nurse of the Year” party for herself has been sentenced to nine months in jail.

Betty Lichtenstein was also sentenced on Tuesday to three years of probation on charges of criminal impersonation, practicing nursing without a license and second-degree forgery.

Authorities say the 57-year-old Lichtenstein, who also went by the names Betty Trudel and Betty Ann St. John, worked at a doctor’s office dispensing medical advice, writing prescriptions and giving shots even thought she had no medical training.

She even spent her own money to throw a party for herself in 2008 for winning the “Nurse of the Year” award from the fictional Connecticut Nursing Association.

Lichtenstein apologized in court.

Montana: Lolo man accused of brandishing syringe at trooper
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Bail has been set at $100,000 for a 33-year-old man accused of drinking, rolling his car in southwest Missoula, then brandishing a syringe at a state trooper and shouting he has AIDS and hepatitis C.

Wayne Dale Munnell of Lolo appeared in Justice Court in Missoula on Tuesday on several felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from a rollover crash Sunday.

Court records say Munnell crashed his car on U.S. Highway 93, injuring several passengers, including a 24-year-old man whose arm was nearly severed in the wreck, a 16-year-old boy, a 6-year-old boy and possibly a 4-year-old girl. None of those injured remained hospitalized Tuesday.

Munnell was taken to a hospital, where he is accused of grabbing the needle during a blood draw and brandishing it at the trooper. The Missoulian reports that a preliminary breath test measured Munnell’s alcohol level at 0.149 percent, almost twice the legal limit for driving.

Munnell is charged with four counts of criminal endangerment, as well as misdemeanor charges of assault, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, driving on a suspended or revoked license, and a second offense of failing to carry proof of insurance.

Maine: Man waives right to jury trial in murder of woman
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A 29-year-old Maine man charged with strangling and decapitating his girlfriend in his Portland apartment before setting her body on fire is waiving his right to a jury trial.

Chad Gurney has pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in the May 25, 2009, death of 18-year-old Zoe Sarnacki.

Justice Roland Cole will preside over his murder trial, which begins Jan. 10.

According to the Portland Press Herald, a psychologist for the defense is expected to testify that Gurney was legally insane at the time of the murder, while a state expert will say he was sane and able to comprehend the consequences of his actions.

Gurney has apologized to Sarnacki’s family and settled a $1.35 million wrongful-death lawsuit.

Wisconsin: State to pay exonerated man at least $25,000
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The state of Wisconsin will pay at least $25,000 to a Milwaukee man who spent 23 years in prison for a homicide he didn’t commit.

The Wisconsin Claims Board approved a $25,000 payment this week and agreed to ask the state Legislature to approve another $90,000 in compensation. Wisconsin law requires lawmakers to sign off on payments of more than $25,000.

Robert Lee Stinson says the money will be his first income since he was released from prison nearly two years ago. The 46-year-old says he’s applied for every janitorial and kitchen job he could find, he hasn’t been offered one interview

Stinson was convicted in 1985 in the death of a 63-year-old Milwaukee woman. A judge released him from prison in 2009 after new DNA evidence helped clear him.?

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