National Roundup

Idaho
State contends ex-Boise broker defrauded clients

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Finance has filed a lawsuit against a former Boise mortgage broker, accusing him of violating state securities laws, defrauding investors and using their funds for his own personal gain.
The lawsuit filed recently in state court in Benewah County names Stephen L. Howell, who now lives near the small northern Idaho town of Plummer.
Howell allegedly misrepresented his fund’s investments by omitting material and engaging in business practices that essentially amounted to fraud and deceit, according to the lawsuit. Agency investigators believe Howell collected $24 million from investors between 2004 and 2008.
Several companies founded or managed by Howell also are named in the complaint. The state alleges Howell used the companies to lure investors, then used their money to finance real estate investments, make risky loans and in one case finance a resort property near Sheridan, Wyo.
The “companies are all mere alter egos for Howell, and were used to effectuate the fraudulent course of business related to the offer or sale of securities,” the complaint states. “Their corporate existence should be ignored.”
Howell’s attorney, Mike Ramsden of Coeur d’Alene, has filed a response in court denying any wrongdoing. He also claims a statute of limitations applies and has asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Minnesota
Reports sealed in case of cleared football coach

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota State University football coach cleared by a judge of child porn charges stemming from cellphone video of his naked children has filed a civil lawsuit.
Todd Hoffner is asking a judge to keep investigation reports from the dismissed criminal case sealed from the public.
The Free Press in Mankato reports a Twin Cities TV station filed a request to review the reports that usually become public after a criminal case is closed. But Hoffner’s attorney requested a temporary restraining order to seal the reports until they can be reviewed.
District Court Judge Krista Jass granted the request Dec. 20 and when the records are gathered she said she would decide what should remain sealed.
Hoffner had been taken off administrative leave but not reinstated as head coach.

New York
More people  reading e-books, fewer read paper

NEW YORK (AP) — The tastes of the reading public are turning digital.
A Pew Internet Research Center survey released last week found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, a shift Pew called statistically insignificant.
Those owning an e-book device or tablet jumped from 18 percent to 33 percent, with much of that increase coming from last year’s holiday season.
Awareness that libraries offer digital texts grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.
The telephone survey of 2,252 people aged 16 and older was conducted from Oct. 15 to Nov. 10. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

California
Fresno homeless lawsuit survives legal challenge

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge says homeless people in Fresno can go ahead with a lawsuit that claims the city destroyed their belongings in a cleanup of a homeless camp and endangered them by destroying shelters as winter neared last year.
The Fresno Bee says the ruling struck down some portions of the lawsuit but allowed the core of the case to proceed.
The suit, filed on behalf of several homeless people, claims the city violated terms of a 2008 federal court settlement over cleanup sweeps.
Fresno settled a similar 2006 lawsuit for $2.3 million.

Maine
Judge dismisses woman’s suit against Cuba

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the nation of Cuba by a Maine woman who alleged Cuban officials caused the death of her father in 1963.
The judge dismissed the case Wednesday because Cuba has failed to respond to repeated summonses.
Sherry Sullivan of Stockton Springs sued this year, after winning a state court ruling in 2009 that Cuba was guilty of the wrongful death of Geoffrey Sullivan, a pilot believed to have been shot down while on a covert mission.
The state judge awarded Sullivan a $21 million default judgment.
Sullivan’s filing in federal court in Bangor sought to enforce the judgment.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the judge dismissed the case after receiving no response from Cuba to three orders.

New Mexico
Man who called judge a fool appeals sentence

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A 29-year-old man who called a Farmington judge a fool is appealing his 60-day jail sentence for contempt of court.
Robert Hockman was arrested Dec. 13 after he called Magistrate Judge Stanley King a fool after a preliminary hearing in his brother’s second-degree murder case ended. Hockman told his brother to keep his head up as he was being led away, King told him not to talk to the prisoner and Hockman responded. Confronted by the judge, Hockman asked “did I stutter?”
That prompted his arrest and immediate 60-day jail sentence.

Nebraska
Parents of child who died sue day care owners

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The parents of a 1-year-old boy who died nearly a year ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners of a Lincoln day care home.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that police are still investigating Zachary Taylor's death on Jan. 3, and no one has been charged criminally.
The boy's parents, Anthony and Elizabeth Taylor, filed a lawsuit Monday against Daniel and Lacy Stattler, the owners of Stay N Learn child care center in Lincoln. The lawsuit alleges that the Stattlers are responsible for Zachary's death.
Police say Lacy and Daniel Stattler both watched Zachary that day. Lacy Stattler told investigators that she found Zachary unresponsive when she checked on him. Doctors later found that he was suffering from a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain.

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