National Roundup

New?Jersey
Ex-judge spared prison in ticket-fixing scheme

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — A former municipal judge who falsified records as part of a five-year ticket-fixing scheme that funneled more than $500,000 to the New Jersey municipalities he served will be allowed to enter a pretrial program.

Richard Thompson worked in nine Monmouth County towns before he was suspended in October 2015.

From 2010 to 2015, Thompson converted roughly 4,000 motor vehicle ticket fines to contempt of court sanctions without any legal basis to do so. Thompson has admitted that was done to steer money to the towns he served.

State law mandates revenue from motor vehicle fines is split equally between the county and municipality. But contempt of court fines exclusively go to the towns.

The 62-year-old Middletown resident also admitted altering documents after citizens and attorneys had left the courtroom.

Delaware
Judge grants killer returned to prison after release probation

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A judge has granted probation to a killer who was ordered back to prison after Delaware’s Supreme Court reversed another judge’s ruling that had freed her.

In a ruling Thursday, the judge suspended 58-year-old Catherine Culp’s prison sentence for time served, followed by two years on probation.

Culp was initially sentenced to life in prison for the 1998 shooting death of her boyfriend, Lee Hicks. Following a retrial, she was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced in 2001 to 25 years in prison.
Her release date, with good time credit, was March 2019.

Culp was freed on probation for about nine months in 2016 after a judge concluded that her model conduct in prison and extensive rehabilitation efforts amounted to “extraordinary circumstances” justifying a sentence modification.

Washington
Man who evaded police for 25 years guilty of manslaughter

EPHRATA, Wash. (AP) — A man who evaded authorities for 25 years has been found guilty by a Grant County jury of man­slaughter in connection with the 1991 death of Barbara J. Kipp.

The Columbia Basin Herald reported Thursday that 66-year-old Arnolfo Bravo had also faced second-degree murder, but the jury found him not guilty on that charge.

Kipp was found dead Oct. 1, 1991, by her roommate. Court documents say people associated with Kipp told police she was planning on breaking up with Bravo.

Bravo acknowledged to a detective that he stole items out of Kipp’s house, as well as her vehicle, but he did not admit to killing her. Warrants were issued for Bravo’s arrest after the interview, but he was able to avoid authorities until his November 2016 arrest in Texas.

Montana
Man awarded new trial for 2015 homicide conviction

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man convicted of killing another man by cutting his throat has been granted a new trial by the Montana Supreme Court through appeal.

The Billings Gazette reported Thursday that 66-year-old William Earl Cunningham had been found guilty of deliberate homicide in 2015 for the death of 40-year-old Nathan Horn.

The Gazette reports that the men had been fighting over which military branch was best.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Yellowstone County District Court made errors that hindered Cunningham’s defense.

Cunningham is serving an 80-year sentence at the Montana State Prison. He filed his appeal five months after conviction.

A new trial date has not yet been set.

Kansas
State appeals Planned ­Parenthood case to U.S. Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that prevents the state from cutting off Medicaid funds to a Planned Parenthood affiliate.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer said Thursday that the state is seeking to reverse a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last month. Colyer is a strong abortion opponent.

The appeals court’s decision left in place a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking a move by Kansas in 2015 to end its contract with Planned Parenthood Great Plains. It was the fifth of six appeals courts to uphold patients’ right to receive health care from their preferred qualified provider.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains operates two health centers in Kansas. One in the Kansas City area performs abortions but Medicaid seldom covers such procedures.

California
Judge awards $1 million in fees to ex-Black Panther

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge in Northern California is ordering the city of Oakland to pay about $1 million in attorneys’ fees to a former leader of the Black Panthers who was injured after an Oakland councilwoman punched and pushed her.

Alameda County jury in January awarded more than $4 million in punitive damages to Elaine Brown in a civil lawsuit she filed against the city and Oakland councilwoman Desley Brooks.

The jury found Brooks shoved Brown inside a restaurant during an argument over housing causing her to fall and injure her shoulder.

Jurors said the former Black Panther leader, who was 72-year-old at the time of the assault, was the victim of elder abuse and battery.

The East Bay Times reports the ruling on attorneys’ fees comes days after the city filed a motion for a new trial.

Indiana
Man faces 6th suit for allegedly molesting 19 kids

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana man charged with molesting 19 children faces a sixth civil lawsuit stemming from that alleged abuse.

The lawsuit filed March 12 on behalf of one of Michael Begin Jr.’s alleged victims names the 18-year-old Jeffersonville man, the Greater Clark School Corporation and YMCA of Southern Indiana Inc. as defendants.

Begin allegedly molested 19 children between the ages of 3 and 8 last fall while working at a YMCA and as an elementary school teaching assistant.

Attorney Ken Pierce tells the News and Tribune his client was among the last allegedly abused by Begin. The civil suit is the sixth filed in Clark County against Begin since early February.

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