News Around the State

Published 2:34 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

Strike force formed to combat opioid abuse in Appalachia

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Justice Department officials say a new law enforcement strike force is being formed to combat opioid abuse in Appalachia.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski says the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force will investigate health care fraud schemes and prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal distribution of opioids.

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The Justice Department said Thursday that the strike force will bring together law enforcement and federal prosecutors. Participants will include the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.

Benczkowski says the suffering caused by opioid abuse has been “particularly staggering” in Appalachia. He says the problem is “more reprehensible when unscrupulous physicians and pharmacies” contribute to the epidemic by illegally supplying prescription painkillers.

Sheriff: 2 suspects run off cliff after chase

MCKEE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky sheriff says two people who evaded police in their car and then ran off a cliff have survived with serious injuries.

Jackson County Sheriff Paul Hays tells WYMT-TV his deputies noticed a car weaving back and forth Monday night and gave chase when the driver wouldn’t pull over.

He says the car struck a tree and its occupants got out and ran, falling off a cliff.

The passenger, April Colbert of Indiana, fell around 40 feet (12 meters), landing on a ledge. The driver, Codin Yoder, fell another 40 feet (12 meters).

Yoder told WYMT-TV he was badly injured, but everything was fine as long as his fiancee makes it. Colbert remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Hays says the couple could be charged with more than 20 counts.

Pitino lawyer: Verdict shows client didn’t know of payments

NEW YORK (AP) — The lawyer for former Louisville coach Rick Pitino says the convictions in a federal trial alleging corruption in college basketball supports his client’s assertion he was unaware of a scheme to bribe the family of a Cardinals recruit.

Attorney Marc Mukasey said in a statement Thursday that the government argued that former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code “needed to conceal” the scheme from schools and “no one with any degree of credibility implicated Pitino.”

A federal jury on Wednesday found the three men guilty of fraud in the case. Louisville fired Pitino last October soon after the investigation was announced, but the coach was not mentioned in the federal complaint. Pitino has maintained he was not involved in or aware of a scheme to pay the family of former Cardinal player Brian Bowen Jr.

Interstate feature Houdini the goat hit by car, recovering

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A goat who’s long roamed a piece of Interstate 65 in Kentucky is recovering after what officials say was a “traffic mishap.”

News outlets report the large, white goat with horns was named Houdini for his ability to evade both officials trying to capture him and traffic for years. That streak ended Sunday when the Hardin County Animal Shelter says he suffered a broken front leg, just below the knee.

In a Thursday release, the shelter says he’s expected to make a complete recovery in about a month.

Although the goat boasts a Facebook following of more than 35,000 people, his fans will no longer be able to say hello during commutes. The shelter says he’ll be moved to “an undisclosed, stress-free location more conducive to his way of life.”

5-year term for trying to buy child sex with money and meth

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kansas man who prosecutors say tried to purchase a child online for $500 and some meth has been sentenced to five years in prison.

News outlets report 49-year-old Ernest Anziana was sentenced Friday.

Franklin Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Zach Becker previously said Anziana was snared during an undercover investigation by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Branch, and there was no actual girl for sale. He said Anziana intended to have sex with the 11-year-old girl, impregnate her and keep that child.

Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office said Anziana offered $500; previous reports said he offered $250.

Kansas Department of Corrections records indicate Anziana was previously convicted of incest. He’ll be required to complete a sex offender treatment program upon release.