News in Brief

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017

After sexual harassment scandal, lawmakers propose tip line

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers in Kentucky have filed a bill that would create a tip line to report legislative wrongdoing.

Reps. Ken Fleming of Louisville and Kim Moser of Taylor Mill say the tip line would be run by the independent Legislative Ethics Commission. The commission has authority to investigate the complaints against lawmakers, employees, lobbyists or anyone else interacting with the legislature or its workers.

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Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigned his position after acknowledging he settled a sexual harassment claim with a member of his staff. The scandal highlighted the fact the state does not have a process for handling complaints against lawmakers.

The bill says employees who file complaints via the tip line would be protected from reprisal.

Army honors 6 soldiers who rescued crew in helicopter fire

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Army says six soldiers who rescued four crew members after a military helicopter crashed in January have received the highest peacetime award for valor.

A ceremony was held last week at the 101st Airborne Division headquarters at Fort Campbell.

The four were hurt when a UH-60 Black Hawk crashed during training and caught fire Jan. 31 at the Army post. The Army says the soldiers used water, fire extinguishers and soil to control the fire, enabling them to remove and treat three of the injured crew members. They then worked to remove the fourth crew member, who was trapped.

Receiving the Soldier’s Medal at the ceremony were Staff Sgts. Beau Corder, Richard Weaver and Engel Becker, Sgt. Damon Seals, Spc. Christopher White and Pfc. Ryan Brisson.

Just desserts: Man found eating ice cream during burglary

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a homeowner found an unknown Kentucky man in his kitchen, drinking milk and eating ice cream.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release announcing that 24-year-old Joshua Hampton was arrested Friday at a home south of London. Deputies responding to a complaint of a burglary in progress were told by the homeowner that he had been upstairs when he heard his dog barking, and came down to find Hampton in his house.

The homeowner said he didn’t know Hampton and deputies determined he’d unlawfully entered the home.

Hampton is charged with second-degree burglary. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Lexington mayor Jim Gray running for Congress

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The mayor of Kentucky’s second-largest city is running for Congress.

Jim Gray announced Tuesday he will seek the Democratic nomination in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District. Republican Andy Barr has held the seat since 2013.

Gray will face at least three other people for the Democratic nomination: former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, state Sen. Reggie Thomas and Geoff Young, who has run for the seat twice before.

But Gray is well known in the district, which includes Lexington. He ran a statewide campaign for Senate in 2016, losing to Sen. Rand Paul.

Democrats have been coveting the 6th Congressional district for years. It had traditionally been a Democratic seat, but has alternated between Republicans and Democrats five times since 1979.

Duke Energy vendor’s hack may mean stolen customer bank info

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Nearly 375,000 Duke Energy Corp. customers may have had personal and banking information stolen in a data breach.

The country’s largest electric company said Tuesday the customers paid a bill by check or cash at 550 walk-in payment processing centers in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky since 2008.

Those payments were processed by TIO Networks, which was hacked in an attack disclosed after the company was purchased in July by PayPal Holdings Inc. Duke Energy customers make up nearly a quarter of the 1.6 million TIO Network customers potentially compromised.

The personally identifiable information that may have been stolen from Duke Energy customers includes names, addresses, electricity account numbers and banking information if a customer paid power bills by check.

TIO Networks is sending letters to notify those affected.

4 sentenced in conspiracy to steal Fort Campbell equipment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four men charged in a conspiracy to steal and sell Army equipment have been sentenced in federal court in Tennessee.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Nashville said 27-year-old John Roberts of Clarksville was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison. Visiting U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson of Georgia also ordered Roberts to pay $4.2 million restitution.

Prosecutors said evidence at the trial showed that Roberts conspired with soldiers, who took equipment from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Equipment listed for sale online included sniper telescopes and accessories, machine gun parts and grenade launcher sights.

Three others who pleaded guilty also were sentenced Tuesday, including Alexander Hollibaugh, formerly of Fort Campbell, to time served and probation; 23-year-old Spec. Dustin Nelson of Northville, New York; and Aaron Warner of Fort Campbell. Nelson and Warner were given probation.

Four others are being sentenced in January.

Cornell researchers to study tree pollution reduction in Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Engineering students from Cornell University are coming to Kentucky to observe how trees near highways can mitigate pollution and improve human health.

Doctoral candidates Khaled Hashad and Bo Yang, along with undergraduate researcher Dan Shaw, are developing a computational fluid dynamics model for the Green Heart project. Their effort will include the planting of 12,000 trees in Louisville over five years.

They plan to observe the space between trees in mitigating pollution from the highway, finding the best species and assembling a model to determine which trees belong where.

The Cornell team will examine leaf density, turbulence and how trees affect the flow of air from highways to neighborhoods, and determine if trees grown in a streamline shape will reduce pollution.

Power company donates part of land back for animal shelter

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — Work has begun on a new animal shelter on ground donated by Kentucky Power.

The 2-acre (0.8-hectare) lot that will house the shelter in Boyd County is part of a piece of property that Kentucky Power purchased from the county for a new substation. The county requested that Ashland-based Kentucky Power and parent American Electric Power consider donating some of the property back for the shelter, and it was agreed.

American Electric Power said in a news release that the remaining land is large enough to accommodate the new substation.

Ground was broken last week on the 5,300-square-foot shelter (492-sq. meter). It will include 52 regular kennels, 10 isolation kennels, two visitation and examination rooms, a cat and puppy area, a cat colony, 28 outside runs and a large fenced area for dogs.

Trial begins for 2nd man accused in coal executive’s killing

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — The trial has begun for the second of two men accused in the deadly shooting of a coal executive in West Virginia last year.

Monday was the first day of trial for Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, 20, of Louisa, Kentucky, news outlets report. Fitzpatrick is charged with offenses including first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in the death of Bennett K. Hatfield, 59.

Mingo County Prosecutor Duke Jewell said Fitzpatrick and Anthony Raheem Arriaga, 22, of Delphos, Ohio, killed Hatfield as part of a scheme to steal his GMC Yukon Denali and sell its parts. Hatfield was shot while visiting his wife’s gravesite at a cemetery in Maher on May 22, 2016, Jewell said.

Arriaga was convicted on Oct. 21 of first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy. He is expected to get life in prison at his sentencing on Dec. 12.

Fitzpatrick’s defense attorney, Susan Van Zant, said Arriaga acted alone in killing Hatfield. “It does not take two to pull a trigger,” Van Zant said.

Jewell said Fitzpatrick planned the crimes and encouraged Arriaga saying, “Do it,” repeatedly and, “don’t leave any witnesses.”

Hatfield had resigned in 2015 as president and CEO of Patriot Coal. At the time of his death he was operating his own mining consulting business, Coal Strategies LLC. He had also been CEO of International Coal Group and was an executive at Massey Energy.

3 school buses crash injuring 41 students

LOUISIVLLE, Ky. (AP) — Officials say 41 students in Kentucky have been injured in a crash involving three school buses.

Jefferson County Public Schools spokesman Daniel Kemp told news outlets the crash happened Thursday morning on a highway in Louisville as the students were being transported to three different schools. He said student injuries appear to be minor.

Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said two buses were stopped in traffic when a third bus hit one and caused it to hit the other.

The school district’s transportation director, Randy Frantz, said another bus was sent to take uninjured students on to school.

Officials: Woman killed in house fire

DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Officials say a woman has died following a house fire in Kentucky.

WKYT-TV reports that 64-year-old Gerri Compton was found inside a bedroom on Monday.

Officials believe the fire started in the basement and then shot up through the bedroom and into the attic. Investigators say they will send Compton’s body to Frankfort for an autopsy.

Boyle County Fire Chief Donnie Sexton said she lived alone and that there were two vehicles in the driveway. Crews had thought there could be a second person in the home, but they did not to find any additional victims after three searches.

The investigation is being handled by Kentucky State Police.

Woman charged with murder in deadly apartment fire

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A woman has been charged with murder in connection with a fire that killed a woman and child in Kentucky.

WDRB-TV reports that 26-year-old Danesha Peden was booked into Metro Corrections early Thursday morning and faces several charges, including murder, assault and arson.

An arrest report says Peden admitted to pouring gas and setting the fire at a Louisville apartment building on Tuesday night.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Michael E. Haag said 41-year-old Archimeda Riley died from smoke inhalation. An unidentified child was also killed. At least one other child was seriously injured.

Four families have been displaced by the fire.

It’s unclear whether Peden has a lawyer.