National Roundup

Doctor loses license for amputating toe on back porch

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri doctor has lost his state medical license after amputating a patient's gangrenous toe on the porch of his rural office that doubled as a machine shed.

The Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts revoked John Ure's physician and surgeon license in June, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Ure had been practicing in Deepwater, located about halfway between Springfield and Kansas City. Documents filed by the board say Ure performed the amputation in May 2016 on the porch of his office, which doubled as a machine shed and lacked running water and restrooms.

The board also described instances where Ure improperly prescribed painkillers to two different patients.

Reached Wednesday, the 73-year-old Ure called the board's action "a travesty of justice," and said state officials seemed intent of stripping him of his medical practice. He explained that the amputation he performed was done to help a friend who was fearful of hospitals and had refused to go to one to have the gangrenous toe treated, putting his life in danger.

"This toe amputation ... everything was absolutely perfectly sterile, out in the bright sunshine and fresh air," he said.

Ure cannot apply for reinstatement of his license for two years, under terms of the license revocation.

Court: Secret videos can't be used in Kraft massage case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday that police violated the rights of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others when they secretly video recorded them paying for massage parlor sex acts, barring the tapes' use at trial and dealing a potentially deadly blow to their prosecution.

The state 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Kraft's rights were violated under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"The type of law enforcement surveillance utilized in these cases is extreme. While there will be situations which may warrant the use of the techniques at issue, the strict Fourth Amendment safeguards developed over the past few decades must be observed," the judges ruled.

"To permit otherwise would yield unbridled discretion to agents of law enforcement and the government, the antithesis of the constitutional liberty of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures," the court added.

Prosecutors will likely appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, but if it stands the misdemeanor charges brought against Kraft and other customers would have to be dropped for lack of evidence.

Felony charges against the Orchids of Asia spa owners and employees might proceed as there is other evidence besides the tapes against them.

Kraft, 79, and others were charged in February 2019 in a multi-county investigation of massage parlors that included the secret installation of video cameras in the spas' lobbies and rooms. Police say the recordings show Kraft and other men engaging in sex acts with women and paying them.

Police say they twice recorded Kraft, a widower, paying for sex acts at the Orchids of Asia massage parlor. Kraft has pleaded not guilty but issued a public apology.

State deputy solicitor general Jeffrey DeSousa argued that police and prosecutors need the recording to convict the owners of felonies. The owners must be shown receiving payments from the prostitutes and the only way to get that is to install cameras, he said.

He said detectives had to fully record all massages, because the sex acts happened at their conclusion and 95% of male customers received one. While no female customers paid for sex, they were few in number and to not record them could be seen as discriminating against men, he said.

DeSousa said even if the court finds police violated innocent customers' privacy rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that in most circumstances, only improperly seized evidence should be thrown out. Since Kraft, the other men and the masseuses were engaged in crimes, their recordings should be permitted, he said.

"Given the unique and difficult circumstances confronting these officers, the conspiracy, the logistics of the operation, what they reasonably anticipated they would see and the difficulty of knowing at the start of any given massage will this end with a happy ending or will it not, we think what law enforcement did here was entirely reasonable," DeSousa said.

If convicted, Kraft would likely receive a fine, community service and other sanctions, but he could also be suspended or otherwise punished by the National Football League.

West Virginia
Man accused of threatening judge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A Massachusetts man has been indicted for allegedly threatening a West Virginia judge, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury indicted Keith Lessard, 40, of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, on charges of mailing threatening communications to a circuit judge in Kanawha County, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said at a news conference in Charleston.

Lessard allegedly tried to extort money from the judge when he threatened her reputation by claiming she engaged in misconduct while she was an assistant prosecutor in a 2010 case against Lessard, according to the indictment.

Officials: Man fakes kidnapping to get money from father

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A man has been accused of faking his own kidnapping in Mississippi to extort money from his father who lives in Virginia.

The investigation into the case began Thursday when Andrew Blake Hawks' father told deputies he had received a video call that showed his son tied against a tree with a gun pointed to his head, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday.

Hawks' father told investigators the incident happened in Lee County, and that the alleged kidnappers had demanded money in exchange for his son's life.

When they did not receive the money by the deadline that same day, deputies said the alleged kidnappers threatened to cut off Hawks' fingers and fired gunshots that led his father to believe Hawks was killed.

Later that evening, the suspects were told the money had been transferred through Western Union. Police did not disclose how much money Hawks was trying to receive. When investigators arrived at the store where the money would be picked up, deputies said they saw Hawks, 24, attempting to get the money. He was arrested at the scene.

Deputies said his accomplice, David Fisher Jr., 36, was in the store shopping at that time and was also arrested. They have both been charged with extortion.

Competency evaluation for man accused of killing girl

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state man accused of killing a 15-year-old girl in 1993 will undergo a mental health evaluation after he failed to cooperate in two court hearings this week.

Alan Edward Dean refused to identify himself during his arraignment on Monday in which he was charged with first-degree murder on the accusation of killing 15-year-old Melissa Lee, The Everett Herald reported. He was expected to enter a plea on Monday but failed to do so.

Judge Paul Thompson had Dean return to court on Tuesday. Dean, 62, still refused to identify himself and claimed he was not a citizen of the United States "as it pertains to a federal employee or resident" during the hearing.
"I wanted to see him in person, I wanted to see how he interacted with other individuals in the courtroom," Thompson said. "And I have to say, at this point I have concerns as to competency."

Deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell said Dean seemed to understand what was happening, but that he was acting in a peculiar manner out of protest.

"Although what the defendant is saying is gibberish from our perspective, as you noted earlier, he is a constitutionalist or a member of sort of the sovereign nation type of mindset, which we have dealt with historically in the past, it's not new to us," Twitchell said. "Even though we don't necessarily agree with it, or agree with his sense of the jurisdictional laws of our country and this court, is not the same thing as him not having a capacity to understand it."

Thompson agreed with the prosecutor's assessment. A public defender has been assigned to represent Dean, who has said he does not wish to work with the attorney.

In April 1993, the victim's mother returned home to find the house a mess, with a strange chemical smell permeating throughout the living room. Milk, cigarette ashes and peanuts were spilled on the floor. The victim was nowhere to be found.

Hours later, two passersby found what was later identified as Lee's body 50 feet (15 meters) below a bridge in Everett, Washington.

Dean lived in Bothell, Washington, at the time, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) away. He was identified then as a possible suspect, but there was not enough evidence for an arrest until this year, when DNA he discarded on a cigarette matched DNA found at the crime scene, prosecutors said.

A competency review hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 2.