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Worker Falls, Dies in Tyler Construction Mishap

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:53 am

mariottaxTYLER — A construction accident has claimed the life of a worker in south Tyler. On Thursday at 12:22 p.m., Tyler police responded to 350 W. Heritage, the Marriott Residence Inn, which is currently under construction. Investigators determined that a construction worker identified as Mark Castillo, 35, of Tyler was exiting out a third floor window into a large wood box container sitting on top of a fork lift. The box became unstable and fell off the fork lift, falling to the ground with Castillo inside. Investigators have notified OSHA of the incident.

The hotel’s management company is offering its condolences to Castillo’s family. In a statement, the firm says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time. Safety is a primary concern for all our sites. We are looking into how this event occurred. We will also be taking all precautions to ensure something like this does not happen at this or any of our other properties in the future.”

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Harrison County Accident Kills Two, Closes Part of I-20

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 6:08 am

thumb_DPS-carSCOTTSVILLE (AP) — Authorities say two people are dead and a section of Interstate 20 westbound in East Texas remains closed after a fire engulfed an 18-wheeler involved in a crash with a second tractor-trailer. Harrison County sheriff’s deputies tell KSLA TV the accident happened around 2:30 this morning just west of the Scottsville exit. That’s about eight miles west of the Texas/Louisiana state line. All westbound traffic is being diverted off of I-20 onto Exit 628. State troopers say one 18-wheeler was traveling west when it rear-ended another 18-wheeler. The semi that caused the crash then caught on fire. The accident remains under investigation and authorities have not released the names of the victims.

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One Arrested, One Sought in Home Burglary

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:33 am

sheriffsearchketkTYLER — One person has been arrested and one is still sought after a home burglary Thursday in Tyler. According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 12:20 p.m., sheriff’s detectives requested assistance from Tyler Police Department on initiating a traffic stop after seeing a vehicle suspected of involvement in a residential burglary case. The two men driving a gold Chrysler 300 led officers and detectives on a brief pursuit ending when the vehicle wrecked into a curb at the 2800 block of Pine Burr Road near downtown Tyler.

The driver of the vehicle, a juvenile, was taken into custody after being checked and released on scene by EMS for minor injuries. The passenger fled on foot. Tyler Police Department officers set a perimeter of the area while sheriff’s patrol deputies, detectives, and K9 officers pursued the suspect on foot. He is not in custody as of this time. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male wearing a red plaid top, approximately 20 years old.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts or identification of this suspect, you’re asked to contact the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at 903-566-6600. The investigation is ongoing, and further details will be released as they become available, according to officials.

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner Staples to Resign

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:33 am

thumb_toddstaplesAUSTIN (AP/Staff) – State Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says he’s leaving office to become president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. Staples said in a statement released Thursday that he’ll step down sometime within the next two months. His departure was expected, following a failed bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. His political career began as a city councilor in his hometown of Palestine. He went on to serve in the state House and then the Senate before becoming agriculture commissioner He received attention earlier this month when he raised objections to a school district pilot program that encourages kids to eat meatless lunches once a week. Staples said the effort by Dripping Springs was part of an “activist movement” advocating a vegetarian diet for Americans.

Some are calling Staples’s latest move into question. The research director for the Watchdog Group Texans for Public Justice, Andrew Wheat, says it’s unethical for public officials to run straight to lobbying. Wheat says his group believes public officials should have to wait two years before they take a lobbyist job.

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Man Indicted for East Texas Murder Released on Bond

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:32 am

jasonwaltersmugQUITMAN — A man accused of murdering a Mineola teenager has been released on bond. Jason Russell Walters, 41, also of Mineola, turned himself in after being indicted by a Wood County grand jury. According to KETK, District Attorney Jim Wheeler says Walters was indicted on Friday. He was booked into the Wood County Jail Wednesday. Walters allegedly killed Christopher James Griffin, 19, with a gunshot wound to his neck. A judge upped his bond amount to $250,000 following the jury’s decision. The shooting occurred at 11:30 p.m. June 15 at the E-Z Mart in the 100 block of North Pacific Street in Mineola. The suspect was initially released following his arrest on June 16 after posting $100,000 bond.

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Captured Fugitive Guilty of Health Care Fraud Violations

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:32 am

Vivian YusufTYLER — A 44-year-old captured fugitive has pleaded guilty in connection with a federal health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. Vivian Yusuf, formerly of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Sep. 17 in Tyler before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love. Yusuf, a fugitive, wanted since March 2011, was arrested on June 3, 2014, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Yusuf had been indicted for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft on Jan. 12, 2012.

According to information presented in court, Yusuf, the former owner of Ivy Health Care Supply, a Houston-area medical supply company, and Aghaegbuna “Ike” Odelugo, James Reese, and others carried out a scheme to defraud Medicare through the marketing of power wheelchairs and accessories, as well as “ortho kits,” which primarily consisted of a bag of orthotic items, including braces, wraps, and supports, and a heat lamp or heat pad. As part of the scheme, the defendant and her co-conspirators illegally obtained protected health information, including names, dates of birth, and Medicare numbers from elderly individuals.

Officials say Yusuf and her co-conspirators supplied beneficiaries with kits and power wheelchairs which were not prescribed or otherwise authorized by a physician and which were not wanted by the beneficiaries. Claims were submitted by the defendant and her co-conspirators for approximately 790 beneficiaries located primarily in Texas and Louisiana. In some instances, physicians’ signatures were forged and false claims were submitted to Medicare in the names of Medicare beneficiaries who were deceased. By means of fraudulent billing practices, the defendant and her co-conspirators unlawfully submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare of more than $3.4 million and obtained more than $1.6 million.

Odelugo and Reese were indicted for their involvement in similar health care fraud schemes. Odelugo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and money laundering and was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison. The loss to Medicare as a result of Odelugo’s scheme was approximately $9.9 million. Reese pleaded guilty to health care fraud and tax evasion and was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison. The loss to Medicare as a result of Reese’s scheme was approximately $8.6 million. Yusuf faces up to 10 years in federal prison when she appears before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider for sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.

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Cruelty Charge Dropped against Ex-Deputy

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:31 am

dooleymiddletonfamilyvidEMORY (AP/Staff) – An animal cruelty charge has been dropped against a former Rains County sheriff’s deputy who was fired after shooting a farm dog that was later euthanized. Jerrod Dooley appeared in court Thursday in Emory and said he’s permanently surrendered his law enforcement license. Dooley also apologized for shooting the blue heeler named Candy. Dooley said he was bitten before by another dog and that left him fearful of an attack. Dooley in April answered a burglary call near Point. Dooley has said the dog charged at him before he fired. The distraught owner then euthanized the wounded animal. Dooley was fired after he and the sheriff’s office received threats following the incident, part of which was recorded by patrol car video.

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Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by Truck

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:30 am

LONGVIEW — One man has died following an accident involving a truck and a pedestrian. According to Longview Police, it happened Wednesday night around 9:40 in the 2100 block of East Marshall Avenue. Authorities said Herman Procell, 73, Longview, reportedly stepped out into the roadway in front of a truck driven by a 26-year-old man. Procell was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. No charges are expected to be filed.

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Couple’s Appeal Denied in Child Injury Case

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:29 am

thumb_Lady-JusticeTYLER — A Tyler husband and wife have been denied an appeal after the two were both sentenced to 25 years in prison for injury to a child. KETK reports the Twelfth Court of Appeals denied an appeal for Kenneth and Shelley Walker, who were sentenced October 3, 2012. They’d been found guilty of placing their two-year-old granddaughter, Bridget Walker, into a bathtub filled with scalding water. The toddler was severely burned on her feet and ankles and was flown to a Dallas hospital for treatment.

The appeal challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. In the first issue, the Walkers contended the evidence is legally insufficient to support the verdict. In their second issue, the contended the evidence is insufficient “to support the jury verdict that this was serious bodily injury.” The defendants began serving their sentences immediately in 2012 and will not be eligible for parole until 2025.

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East Texas State Fair Begins Today

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 5:45 am

East Texas Fair LogoTYLER — The East Texas State Fair opens today, and the day is designated as Senior Citizen Day. That’s just one of numerous attractions as the fair kicks off a ten-day run, wrapping up Sunday, Sept. 28. Free nightly concerts are featured, with nationally-known and local entertainment. There’ll also be carnival rides, food, shopping, livestock shows, and more. You can go to http://www.etstatefair.com for a complete rundown.

Because of the fair, the Tyler Police Department advises drivers that on West Front Street in front of Harvey Hall, traffic will be shut down to one lane in both east and west directions all day Friday — starting at 8:00am and continuing until midnight. After Friday, all lanes will be open until 4:00pm each day, and then the traffic will revert back to one lane of traffic flow in each direction until closing time of the fair. Tyler police encourage everyone crossing West Front to cross at the approved crosswalk in front of the main gate. Officers will provide traffic control at this crosswalk for your safety. Police ask that you please use extreme caution in this area due to the large volume of pedestrian traffic and officers directing traffic in the street. Drivers not attending the fair on Friday and after 4:00pm each day may consider taking an alternate route.

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GOP’s Abbott Woos Latinos on Hostile Texas Border

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 4:30 am

Gregg AbbottPENITAS (AP) — Despite a 3-to-1 edge in campaign cash and polling leads over his Democratic opponent, Greg Abbott is courting Republican-snubbing Hispanic voters with efforts reminiscent of former President George W. Bush’s time as Texas governor. The Republican candidate and current attorney general has made 14 visits to the Rio Grande Valley. He’s recruited a Mexican actor for some of his TV commercials, spent generously on Spanish-language advertising and introduces his wife Cecilia as the soon-to-be first Latina first lady of Texas. Today, the Rio Grande Valley will play host to the first debate between Abbott and his Democratic opponent Wendy Davis. It’s the first gubernatorial debate on the border since 1998, when Bush began wooing Hispanics for his presidential bid. Another debate is scheduled for later this month in Dallas.

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Contempt Case Reopened against Perry Prosecutor

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:24 am

Michael McCrumAUSTIN (AP) — The special prosecutor handling the felony indictment against Governor Rick Perry is himself facing legal trouble after a court ruling cleared the way for a criminal case to be filed against him. In January, prosecutors in Bexar County filed a contempt-of-court motion against Michael McCrum, but the case was halted because it was filed after deadline. An opinion this week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals renewed the case. McCrum is accused of telling a witness in a manslaughter trial to “get lost for a while” to hinder her being called to testify. If convicted, McCrum faces a maximum six months in jail. The special prosecutor is leading the case that saw an Austin grand jury last month indict Perry on two counts related to abuse of official power.

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Perry, A&M Dedicate Key Element of Vaccine Center

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:22 am

Texas A&MCOLLEGE STATION(AP) — Governor Rick Perry and top officials from Texas A&M University have dedicated a new 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that’s to produce enough flu vaccine to treat 50 million people within four months of a declared pandemic. The $91 million plant is a cornerstone of A&M’s growing center to battle contagious diseases and bioterrorism. It’s been touted as potentially generating $41 billion in expenditures over the next 25 years and drawing the largest federal investment in Texas since NASA came to the state in the 1960s. Perry and others Thursday signed a stainless steel beam that’s to be part of the building that’s now about 35% finished but should be completed in about a year. Actual vaccine for clinical tests should be in production by 2018.

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Search to Resume for Texas Deputy Missing in Flood

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:20 am

high water crossingAUSTIN (AP) — A search for a missing Central Texas sheriff’s deputy is set to resume, a day after her patrol car was found swamped by floodwaters minutes after she radioed for help while checking flooded low-water crossings. The search will pick up today after storms before nightfall Thursday halted efforts to locate her.
Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade says the deputy, whose identity hasn’t been revealed, was checking crossings during the storms. She radioed early Thursday to say her patrol car was being washed away in an Austin-area subdivision. Her empty car was found a short time later awash in floodwaters but she was nowhere to be found. The National Weather Service forecasts more heavy rain through Saturday over much of West Texas and through Friday in Southeast Texas.

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Stabbing Injures Student, School Evacuated

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:16 am

Bastrop Police patchBASTROP (AP) — Authorities say a student has been hospitalized after being stabbed during a fight at his Texas high school that prompted officials to evacuate the building. Police Cpl. Vicky Steffanic says the fight broke out between two 15-year-old boys Thursday morning in a bathroom at Bastrop High School, with one stabbing the other. The school, about 25 miles southeast of Austin, was then placed on lockdown. Steffanic says the victim was hospitalized but his injuries aren’t considered life-threatening. The other teen was apprehended off campus. He’s charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. School district spokesman Donald Williams released a statement saying students were taken to a nearby performing arts center after the stabbing. They were later allowed to return, and classes resumed. Steffanic says it’s unclear what prompted fight.

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Federal Inmate Sentenced for Deadly Assault

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:13 am

gavelBEAUMONT (AP) — A Missouri man incarcerated at a federal prison in Southeast Texas has been sentenced to more than 12 years for fatally beating another inmate who he mistakenly believed was in prison for molesting children. Jacob Smith of Forsyth, Missouri, was sentenced Thursday after earlier pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit murder. Federal prosecutors say the 23-year-old Smith was incarcerated at the prison in Beaumont in October 2012 when he and another inmate entered the cell of Edward Lee Bowlin. They say the two men used their hands and feet to beat him. They left but Smith soon returned and continued to beat Bowlin, causing him to suffer head and brain trauma. Bowlin fell into a coma and died in November 2013. Smith’s original offense was not immediately clear.

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Two School Officials Sentenced for Stealing Millions

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:12 am

Justice Department logoBEAUMONT (AP) — Two top officials of a Southeast Texas school district have been sentenced to prison for stealing more than $4 million from the district. Devin Wayne McCraney is the former Beaumont Independent School District finance director, while Sharika Baksh Allison is the district’s former comptroller. U.S. District Judge Ron Clark sentenced McCraney in Beaumont to 5 years and 8 months in federal prison for pleading guilty on April 14 to defrauding programs that receive federal funds. Allison was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in federal prison for pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud those programs. They also have been ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution. In April, the Texas Education Agency announced it was taking over the district and lowering its accreditation status.

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San Antonio Hotel Guest Found Dead in Courtyard

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:10 am

Omni La Mansion del Rio courtyardSAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio police say a guest has been found dead in the courtyard of a seven-story hotel after she apparently fell. Police say the body was discovered before dawn Thursday by an employee of the Omni La Mansion del Rio. The name of the woman wasn’t immediately released. Police did not immediately say how she fell or from what floor. Investigators found no evidence of foul play. Police say a man who was staying with the woman was awakened and advised of her death. Police say the man was intoxicated but said he was asleep and unaware that the woman left the room. The general manager of the Omni La Mansion

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Texas, U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices Down 6 Cents

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:06 am

thumb_gasnozzleIRVING (AP) — Retail gasoline prices in Texas fell 6 cents this week in a decline that matched the nationwide drop in prices at the pump. AAA Texas on Thursday reported gasoline prices statewide were $3.17 per gallon. The national average was $3.36 per gallon. El Paso has the most expensive gasoline in Texas at $3.23 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo with the cheapest gasoline statewide at $3.08 per gallon. AAA officials say the average retail price for gasoline typically falls this time of year amid decreased demand and the transition to winter-blend gasoline, which is cheaper to produce.

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Frisco Pledges $1M to Bring Video Game Museum

Posted/updated on: September 19, 2014 at 2:05 am

Frisco Water TowerFRISCO (AP) — A community development board in a fast-growing northern Dallas suburb has approved a $1 million plan to renovate a city museum into the nation’s first video game museum. The Dallas Morning News reports the Frisco Community Development Corp. board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a deal with the Videogame History Museum for building renovations and startup costs. The museum would be housed inside the city-owned Frisco Discovery Center and would be called the National Videogame Museum 1.0. It would be the testing ground for a larger and more permanent home planned in Frisco. About $800,000 from the city would renovate the space and expand its parking. Then, $100,000 grants from the Community Development Corp. and the Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau would go toward the museum’s startup costs.

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Today in History for 19th September 2014

- Historical Events 1559 - 5 Spanish ships sinks in storm off Tampa, about 600 die 1799 - English and Russian invasion army conquerors Receiver 1940 - Witold Pilecki is voluntarily captured and sent to Auschwitz in order to smuggle out information and start a resistance. 1981 - Simon and Garfunkel reunite for a NYC Central Park concert 1986 - Fed health officials announce AZT will be available to AI... Read more on HistoryOrb.com

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