National Roundup

North Dakota
Addiction ­counselor's case stalls amid ­questions

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A judge is raising Fourth Amendment questions in a case involving a Bismarck addiction counselor accused of hindering police in a methadone patient's arrest.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland didn't rule Wednesday on a motion to dismiss Kiki Schatz's case. Schatz was charged with misdemeanor hindering law enforcement in June after not allowing police entry into an opioid treatment clinic at Heartview Foundation, which is a private facility.

Bismarck police were attempting to arrest Brendan Kapfer for allegedly violating a protection order. Schatz says she invoked federal privacy law Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations because she's obligated to protect patients' confidentiality rights.

Feland says she has legal questions regarding constitutional protection from unlawful search and seizure. Feland requested post-hearing briefs by Oct. 4.

Florida
Woman charged with hitting ­husband with vacuum part

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. (AP) - A Florida woman faces a criminal charge after authorities say she battered her husband with a vacuum cleaner attachment while cleaning their house.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office charged 31-year-old Holly Akers Tuesday with one count of felony battery on a person 65 years or older.

An arrest affidavit says Akers began arguing with her husband, Charles Plagens, after she was cleaning their house in the middle of the night.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Plagens moved from room to room to try to sleep but Akers kept following him with the vacuum cleaner.

He says she struck him on the nose with an attachment, causing a minor abrasion that didn't require medical treatment.

Court records show Akers was still in jail on Friday and couldn't be reached for comment.

Indiana
Woman pleads guilty in car-house crash that killed 2 sisters

FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) - A central Indiana woman has pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide for crashing her car into a home and killing two sisters who were inside.

Clinton County Prosecutor Tony Sommer told WLFI-TV Thursday that 18-year-old Alia Sierra could face up to 12 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15.

Sierra crashed her car into the living room of a home near Frankfort on July 13, 2017, killing 17-year-old Haleigh Fullerton and 9-year-old Callie Fullerton. The girls' mother was injured. A third child wasn't hurt.

Authorities had said Sierra, who was 17 when the crash occurred, was driving 107 mph and had opiates in her system.

Sommer says the question of whether opioids were present in Sierra's blood could not be confirmed due to a lack of evidence.

Alabama
Corruption case: Ex-lawmaker gets 33 months

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge handed down a 33-month prison sentence Thursday to a former Alabama lawmaker who acknowledged taking bribes to help fight environmental cleanup efforts in his state's biggest city.

Local news outlets report a federal judge sentenced former state Rep. Oliver Robinson on Thursday. Robinson previously pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion.

Robinson said he had been given a $375,000 contract - paid to him through his non-profit Oliver Robinson Foundation - and in exchange was asked to use his influence as a public figure to oppose Environmental Protection Agency efforts to prioritize cleanup and expand a Superfund site in north Birmingham.

Robinson, 58, apologized to the court and the people of Birmingham. "My people in North Birmingham, my deepest apologies. I confessed my charges and I ask forgiveness from the people of Alabama and from God. I look forward to continuing to the path of redemption with every step I take for the rest of my life," Robinson told the judge, according to ABC 33/40.

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon is what federal prosecutors requested. They had urged leniency for Robinson, saying he was remorseful and had cooperated with prosecutors.

Robinson's testimony helped lead to the convictions of Joel Gilbert, a partner with Balch & Bingham law firm, and Drummond Co. Vice President David Roberson. Prosecutors noted that jurors found them guilty of conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors argued that Gilbert and Roberson were intent on protecting Drummond-owned ABC Coke from the tremendous potential costs associated with being held responsible for pollution at the site.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin told the judge that his instincts as a prosecutor were "to stick it to him" with a tough sentence recommendation.

"But, Oliver Robinson's case is unique ... " Martin said. "He is the only elected official I know of that has humbly and truthfully accepted responsibility for his crimes."

The judge also ordered Robinson to pay $169,151 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and to forfeit $390,783.

During the July trial, Robinson, a former college basketball star and one-time rising star in the Alabama House of Representatives, testified he felt like he sold out the people he had been elected to represent.

Robinson had served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 until his sudden resignation in 2016.

"Robinson betrayed his constituents and neighbors in north Birmingham and Tarrant, selling his elected office to special interests for personal profit. An elected official can scarcely commit a more egregious crime," U.S. attorney Jay Town said in a statement.

California
City has its 1st electric scooter DUI prosecution

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Los Angeles man has been fined $550 and ordered to pay restitution for riding an electric scooter while intoxicated and knocking over a 64-year-old pedestrian on a sidewalk.

The City Attorney's Office said Thursday the prosecution of 28-year-old Nicholas Kauffroath was the first motorized scooter driving under the influence legal case with a charge in Los Angeles.

The office says in a statement that Kauffroath on Aug. 4 had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the limit while operating a Bird scooter.

The pedestrian was knocked down leaving a theater and suffered a knee abrasion while the rider continued on.

Kauffroath pleaded no contest to operating a motorized scooter under the influence and hit-and-run.

He was placed on 36 months of probation and must complete a DUI program.

Published: Mon, Oct 01, 2018

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