News Around the State

Published 12:09 pm Friday, March 30, 2018

Man pleads guilty to helping lawyer flee country

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to assisting a lawyer who went on the run after pleading guilty in a $500 million Social Security fraud scheme.

A release from the U.S. Department of Justice says 48-year-old Curtis Lee Wyatt pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to escape from custody.

An indictment alleged Wyatt opened a bank account the lawyer, Eric Conn, used to transfer money. Wyatt also tested security at the Mexican border and bought a pickup truck for Conn. Conn was captured in December as he left a Pizza Hut in Honduras.

Investigators say Conn was on home confinement in June when he escaped by cutting an electronic monitoring device from his ankle.

Wyatt, of Raccoon, Kentucky, will be sentenced on June 29 in federal court.

Justice’s coal firm sued over $1M settlement

(AP) — A coal company owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is being sued for not paying $1 million in a settlement agreement.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings submitted this week by Dennis Ray Johnson II accuse Kentucky Fuel Corp. of paying only a portion of a $2 million settlement. The Wednesday filing says the company paid half up front and was supposed to pay the second half in monthly installments of $50,000.

The lawsuit by Peoples Bank says Kentucky Fuel still owes $950,000 and hasn’t made a payment since May 2015.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the lawsuit stems from a 2014 lawsuit Kentucky Fuel settled in 2015 in which two companies accused it of not upholding a coal transaction and other infractions.

Those two companies were Producers Coal and Moussie Processing. Peoples Bank is an Ohio company that took on their credit.

Producers Coal had sued Kentucky Fuel for not delivering the amount of coal defined in a purchase agreement. Moussie Processing had leased a coal processing plant to Kentucky Fuel for a flat flee coupled with a percentage of coal sales. Moussie Processing’s lawsuit accused Kentucky Fuel of not paying for loaded or processed coal.

Moussie Processing’s lawsuit also said it was receiving threatening communication from Kentucky Fuel.

The Gazette-Mail reports that it could not reach for comment a lawyer with Peoples Bank or a Kentucky Fuel representative.

Suspect in officer’s death killed

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A man wanted in the fatal shooting an off-duty police officer in a small Kentucky city was found and killed Friday by law enforcement officials in Tennessee.

James K. Decoursey, 35, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was shot and killed after “a brief encounter with law enforcement” in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to Kentucky State Police. The department said Decoursey fatally shot 38-year-old Hopkinsville officer Phillip Meacham on Thursday, then fled the area on foot.

The suspect was found after law enforcement officers tracked him down in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, authorities determined that Decoursey had likely fled in a stolen vehicle to the Clarksville area. Law enforcement officers located the vehicle in the parking lot of a restaurant. At about the same time, authorities received a tip from a hotel across the street, reporting that a man matching Decoursey’s description was there asking for a cigarette.

Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies and a U.S. marshal then confronted Decoursey as he walked back toward the restaurant. The TBI said Decoursey appears to have ignored repeated commands and the situation escalated, resulting in the law enforcement officers firing upon Decoursey, killing him. No law enforcement officers were injured.

Authorities haven’t described Decoursey’s motive. Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton said DeCoursey had a prior arrest record, was known to police, and that while he wasn’t positive the two men knew each other personally, “considering they’re both from here, it’s very likely.”

Meacham, married and with two school-age children, had been with the Hopkinsville department since last May. Meacham had more than 14 years of experience of law enforcement in Christian County.

Gov. Matt Bevin announced the officer’s death on Twitter.

In Frankfort, lawmakers in the House stood for a moment of silence after Rep. Walker Wood Thomas of Hopkinsville announced that an officer had been shot.

Hopkinsville is about 73 miles (117 kilometers) northwest of Nashville, Tennessee.

UPS donates $21K to group that supports women in aviation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — UPS has donated $21,000 to a nonprofit that works to encourage women to enter aviation.

WDRB-TV reports part of the money donated to the “Women in Aviation” Bluegrass chapter in Louisville, Kentucky, will go toward the Girls in Aviation Day event. The Sept. 22 event helps girls aged 8 to 17 learn what it takes to be a pilot.

Women in Aviation International’s website says it encourages the advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. WDRB quotes the group as saying it’s important to start inspiring girls at an early age to make a career in aviation.

The Bluegrass Chapter’s website says members were also able to tour the training center and fly an A300 simulator during its Bluegrass Chapter UPS Day.

Girl Scouts salute Fort Campbell with 50K boxes of cookies

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — The Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee have donated nearly 50,600 boxes of cookies to Fort Campbell this year.

The Leaf-Chronicle cites a news release that says the donations are made possible through Troop Gift of Caring and Hugs For Our Soldiers. Troop Gift of Caring allows troop donations to be sent to heroes in their hometowns and Hugs For Our Soldiers, also called HUGS, is a nonprofit that sends gifts to troops on active duty. The Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee have partnered with HUGS for the past eight years.

In addition to cookies donated to Fort Campbell, nearly 20,000 more boxes will be going to various organizations across Middle Tennessee. Hugs for Our Soldiers Founder Kathy Orcutt says she is blown away by this year’s donation.

Senate OKs boosting benefits for families of slain officers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate has voted to increase death benefits for the surviving spouses and children of police officers killed in the line of duty.

The bill cleared the Senate on Thursday. It returns to the House, which could send the measure to Gov. Matt Bevin if it accepts minor changes to the bill.

The bill would cover a wide range of public employees, including police officers, firefighters and other state workers. But the focus was on the family members of police officers.

Currently, their spouses can receive 25 percent of the officer’s salary, or take whatever retirement benefits the officer was eligible for at the time of death. The bill would change that, letting spouses receive 75 percent of their loved one’s salary.

The legislation is House Bill 185.