AP – State News Stories

| May 14, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The uncle of a Democratic Missouri lawmaker has pleaded guilty to voter fraud in an election that his nephew won by a single vote.  John Moretina pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to giving false information when registering and voting. Moretina lived in Gladstone but admitted to giving a false address in July 2010 that allowed him to vote in the 40th House District where his nephew John Rizzo was a candidate.  Rizzo defeated Will Royster by a single vote in the August 2010 Democratic primary. Royster alleged voter fraud at the time but an appeals court rejected his request for a new election.  Rizzo won re-election last year and remains in the Missouri House. He said Tuesday that he had not been contacted by authorities about his uncle’s activities.

CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Three men have been arrested as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a southeast Missouri man.  The arrests follow the death of 33-year-old Rodney Maxwell of Caruthersville. After his car struck a tree Friday night, police determined that he had been shot.  Names of those arrested have not been released pending formal charges.

PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri man is dead after fire broke out inside his mobile home.  23-year-old Phillip Roessler of Perryville died early Saturday.  Fire officials believe the blaze began in the kitchen while Roessler was asleep. A friend found Roessler’s body several hours later. Roessler was alone in the mobile home at the time of the fire.

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County police lieutenant has been fired, nearly six months after accusations that he ordered officers to target black people.  Lt. Patrick “Rick” Hayes was fired Monday following a six-month internal investigation that began with an anonymous tip dated Dec. 24 from a county officer.  The tip to Chief Tim Fitch and another top county police official said Hayes ordered officers under his command to focus on arresting blacks in and around South County Center and at a Wal-Mart store in south St. Louis County.  Fitch says the investigation determined that Hayes violated department policies but no officers followed his commands.  Hayes declined comment but his attorney, Neil Bruntrager, vowed to appeal, calling the internal investigation “flawed.”

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Investigators say they uncovered one of the largest indoor marijuana growing operations ever found in a southwest Missouri county.  Newton County officials say a tip sent them to a home west of Joplin, where they found nearly 400 marijuana plants spread throughout the home. Sheriff Ken Copeland called it the most sophisticated operation county investigators had ever found.  Four rooms were full of plants under grow lights. It also included humidifying operations, timers and clipboards with schedules for treatments. Other rooms were used for drying and packaging.  A total of 396 plants were found, with 107 half-pound to 1-pound packages of processed pot. The value of the operation was placed at $850,000.  A 35-year-old man was arrested after the operation was discovered on Friday.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The top lawmaker in the Missouri Senate says there will be no vote this year on a revision of the state’s criminal laws or a $1.2 billion bonding program.  Both measures already passed the House. But Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says they are too complex to bring up with just a few days remaining before Friday’s mandatory adjournment for the 2013 session.  Dempsey said Monday senators want more time to read the roughly 1,100-page overhaul of Missouri’s criminal laws so they don’t inadvertently repeal something they want to keep on the books.  He says lawmakers also could further study the bonding proposal for public buildings before it goes on the 2014 ballot.  Dempsey says both measures may be priorities when lawmakers return to work next January.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are pressing to renew a program that provides Medicaid coverage to disabled workers who otherwise would earn too much to qualify for government-funded health care.  The Ticket to Work program covers more than 1,300 Missouri residents but is due to expire this August. Legislation endorsed Monday by a Senate committee would renew the program through August 2019.  The program covers disabled workers with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level, or more than $34,000 for an individual. It requires them to pay a premium on a sliding scale that tops out at 6 percent of their income.  To go to the governor, the bill still must be passed in the same form by the Senate and House before the session ends Friday.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Legislature has voted to create an online database allowing businesses to check whether job applicants have a history of filing workers’ compensation claims.  The House gave the bill final approval Monday on a 91-67 vote. It now heads to Gov. Jay Nixon.  Under the legislation, the Division of Workers’ Compensation would create a database searchable by name and Social Security number. The database would identify whether a person’s claim is open or closed and the date it was made.  Supporters say employers can already get information on an applicant’s workers’ compensation claim but an online database could speed up the hiring process.  The division says an online database initially would include 554,000 claim records, with about 13,000 records added annually.

WILDWOOD, Mo. (AP) — A road with a name some residents of the St. Louis County town of Wildwood find offensive will stay the same.  The Wildwood City Council voted Monday to keep the name Old Slave Road despite a petition drive by some residents who live there.  esidents sought to change the name to Elijah Madison Lane after a slave who lived on the land the street runs through.  The Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission said in February that the name recognized the history of the area and identified the major role former slaves had in the growth of the region both before and after the Civil War.  The road runs near Old Slave Cemetery, where more than 60 former slaves are buried.

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