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Medical Code Workers Testify against Texas Doctor

tariq mahmoodTYLER (AP) – Some medical workers responsible for treatment billing codes say they felt pressured by a Dallas-area doctor to allegedly falsify data to get more money from Medicare. Testimony continues in the Tyler health care fraud trial of Dr. Tariq Mahmood, who’s denied wrongdoing. Federal prosecutors say the hospital chain owner conspired to submit more than $1.1 million in false billings. The Dallas Morning News reports Norma Longley testified Monday that she balked at changing billing codes for Renaissance Hospital Terrell patients. Longley says Mahmood insisted diagnoses by other doctors be altered to reflect more expensive treatments. She later discovered her codes for Medicare reimbursements were altered. Cynthia Kennemer Plumlee testified she was fired after refusing to let Mahmood be “involved” in reviewing patient codes. She cited professional ethics.

Simpson Holds Town Hall Meeting Following Border Tour

thumb_David-SimpsonLONGVIEW – State Representative David Simpson of Longview invites citizens from District 7 and the surrounding area to a slideshow presentation and report about his week-long tour of the southern Texas border. After the report, the floor will be open for questions and comments from the audience about immigration and border security, according to a news release. The town hall meeting will take place at The Bridge Building at Mobberly Baptist Church from 5:30 to 7:30 this evening. Mobberly is located at 625 E. Loop 281 in Longview. The event is free and open to the public.

Sheriff’s Office Reviewing Policy on Case Submissions

thumb_Larry-SmithTYLER (Staff/AP) — Sheriff Larry Smith and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Command Staff are in the process of reviewing incidents in which inmates were released on personal recognizance bonds. According to a news release, these inmates were released due to their cases not being filed with the District Attorney’s Office in time to indict. Officials say each case file will be reviewed at the Sheriff’s Office as well as any Sheriff’s Office communications to or from the District Attorney’s Office. Read the rest of this entry »

Fire Destroys Longview Warehouse, Contents

mopacfire0721LONGVIEW — The Longview Fire Department responded to a major fire at a warehouse on Mopac Road Monday afternoon. KETK reports that when officials arrived on scene, the structure was engulfed in flames and collapsed. According to fire officials, the building was used to store extra clothes, hangers, and other storage equipment for Webco’s store displays. Longview Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary said the Miracle Tabernacle church was also keeping about 70 oak pews inside the building. All contents inside the structure, as well as the structure itself, were lost. The cause is undertermined at the moment, but nothing appears to be suspicious about the fire, according to Zackary. No injuries were reported.

“Government Grant” Phone Scam Targets East Texas

Better Business BureauTYLER — The Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas is warning the public to be extremely wary of phone calls claiming to come from bogus government grant agencies. BBB has received calls from residents concerning unsolicited telephone grant offers that are nothing more than an attempt to clear bank accounts. East Texas consumers have been receiving phone calls telling them they have been awarded a grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But the caller says in order to get the grant, you’ll need to provide bank account and other personally identifying information. Ultimately, consumers do not receive any grant money, and may lose their own money in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Sheriff Says Deputy’s Arrest Led to Recent Arrests of Six Others

kimbrick_jonesTYLER — The 2013 arrest of a Smith County deputy for drug trafficking led to the recent arrests of six other people. KETK reports the seizures and arrests were a byproduct of Kimbrick Bernard Jones’s arrest for selling meth from a patrol car. Sheriff Larry Smith said Jones (pictured) cooperated with the FBI and sheriff’s office as they continued to investigate criminal activities. Following his sentencing, they were able to pinpoint alleged suppliers and traffickers of meth involved. The six were indicted in federal court last week. Smith’s office also seized meth, firearms, and a large piece of land off County Road 3104 where illegal horse racing was reportedly taking place. Deputies searched four residence on more than 100 acres of land in rural Smith County.
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Asphalt Enhancement Project Underway

TYLER — Roadwork on South Broadway Avenue from Erwin Street to Fourth Street is underway. The existing asphalt surface will be removed and replaced with new asphalt. To minimize inconvenience to the public, all work will be done at night between the hours of 7:00pm and 6:00am, according to officials. During this time, the road will periodically be closed to through traffic. Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes during this time. All work is expected to be complete before August 5, weather permitting.

County Road 112 Closed for Bridge Repair

Road Closed2TYLER — Smith County Road 112 is closed for bridge repairs. The project, which started Monday, is expected to last up to three weeks. The closure only applies to the portion of CR 112 located between County Road 131 and County Road 129 in the southern half Smith County. Drivers should utilize an alternative route for the duration of this project.

Baby Dies at Angelina County Home

crimescene-coronerHUNTINGTON (AP) — Officials say a 2-month-old girl has died at an East Texas home as the woman with whom she was living ran an errand and left several other adults to watch the baby. The Angelina County Sheriff’s Department says an autopsy was scheduled on the infant, whose name wasn’t immediately released. Sheriff Greg Sanches says an initial review indicates the baby apparently died of natural causes. Sanches says the woman in whose care the child was entrusted had to pick someone up Saturday and left the sleeping child in the care of several family friends at a home near Huntington. One of the adults checked on the girl, noticed she wasn’t breathing and called 911. Child Protective Services has been notified.

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT logoTYLER — Here’s a quick look at events and work planned in the Tyler District of the state highway department.

GREGG COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue several weeks of pavement-repair operations on U.S. Highway 80 between Loop 485 in Gladewater and the Upshur County Line, followed by similar work in U.S. Highway 271 between US 80 in Gladewater and the Upshur County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic in two-lane areas. Read the rest of this entry »

Longview Police Arrest Six after Meth Seizure

DocumentFragment_4554764LONGVIEW — Longview police arrested six people Saturday morning on charges of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance after more than 200 grams of methamphetamine were discovered at a Longview home. Debra Stiles, spokeswoman for the Longview Police Department, said Sunday that the drugs were found at a home in the 1900 block of Willis Drive during an investigation of a stolen vehicle. According to KETK, Gerri Paige Holt, 25, of White Oak, Brandi K McAlister, 32, of Ore City, Stephen Dwayne Cannada, 40, of Longview, Lacie Danielle Dorgan, 30, of Ore City, Carl Oscar Gearhart, 30, of Gladewater, and Leland Curtis Smith, 32, of Longview, were each being held Sunday on bonds of $50,000. Stiles said officers also found two more stolen vehicles at the home and an investigation is ongoing.

Grand Jury Deadline Passes, Suspects Freed

SheriffatEventTYLER (AP) — Eight people jailed on felony charges, including violent crimes, have been freed from an East Texas jail after a sheriff failed to present evidence to a grand jury within 90 days of their arrest. The Tyler Telegraph reports Sunday the Smith County Sheriff’s Office failed to meet the deadline. The newspaper says that according to documents it obtained through an open records request the suspects were released on their own recognizance between November 2013 and June 30. Another 13 could have been released but were held after additional charges were brought or due to federal retainers. Among those who have been released are a 56-year-old accused of shooting three people during a disagreement and two others charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Tyler Police Investigate Family Dollar Store Robbery

police-lightsTYLER — Tyler police are searching for a robbery suspect. Around 9:40 Sunday morning, police received a report of a commercial robbery at the Family Dollar, 1527 Loop 323. According to authorities, the clerk said the suspect, described as a black male, approximately 6 feet tall, wearing a black jacket, green shirt and jeans, entered the store and demanded the money from the register. The clerk said the suspect had his face covered with his shirt and did not display a weapon. The suspect fled the store on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1000.

Charges Dismissed Following Suspect’s Death

DocumentFragment_3909670GREGG COUNTY — Charges against Ina Lawson were dismissed days after her death in March, according to Gregg County District Attorney Carl Dorrough. According to the Longview News-Journal, Lawson was indicted this past year in the shooting of her husband, Gregg County Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Sam Lawson. Sam Lawson resigned in January because of his injuries. Ina Lawson died of natural causes, according to her daughter.

Sales Tax Holiday Dates Set

EAST TEXAS — Texas shoppers will get their annual break on sales taxes on certain items during the state’s sales tax holiday scheduled for Aug. 8 to 10. The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100 from sales tax, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend during the weekend.

“Families gearing up for the new school year will not pay any sales tax for many back-to-school items ranging from pens to blue jeans,” said Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. “When the back-to-school list is long and the money is short, it can be difficult for Texas families. We hope this tax break will help ease that burden.” Read the rest of this entry »

Prison Roof Collapses, 19 Inmates Injured

ems-ambulanceDIBOLL (AP) — Authorities say the roof of a privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates and sending 19 injured inmates to hospitals. One of those inmates was later airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after the Saturday collapse at Diboll Correctional Center, about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Neither his identity nor his condition has been released. In a statement, a prison spokesman said the other inmates suffered cuts and bruises when wallboard fell from the ceiling of a housing area at the prison about 11:30 a.m. Spokesman Issa Arnita said 86 inmates were in the area when the ceiling material fell. He said officials are trying to determine the cause. The 518-bed minimum-security facility is operated by Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp.

81st Annual Rose Festival Kicks Off

rosesTYLER — The countdown to the 81st annual Texas Rose Festival is officially underway following the festival’s kickoff over the weekend at Willow Brook Country Club. Rose Queen Katie Peltier says the festival has always meant a lot to her. She told KTBB, “I’ve watched it growing up here in Tyler all of my life, so it’s just great to be a part of such a wonderful community experience, and I’m just honored to represent the city of Tyler and the Tyler roses.” Kathleen Bertram is this year’s Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival. She chimed in, “I think this event is very important to Tyler, and I think we all should remember that the true star of the festival is the rose.” Read the rest of this entry »

Memorial Service for Missing Longview Doctor

John Petty-Longview DoctorLONGVIEW (Staff/AP) – A memorial was held today for an East Texas chiropractor who went missing during a commercial shark diving venture in the vicinity of West End, Bahamas, Sunday night. KETK reports John E. Petty, 63, of Longview, was honored at 2:00 this afternoon at First Baptist Church in downtown Longview. A reception followed at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, where Petty’s photo exhibit is on display. Coast Guard officials suspended their search for Petty Wednesday. He was among eight people in the diving group. According to Petty’s family, it’s now believed he was the victim of a shark attack.

Longview Police Team Up with UP on Railroad Crossing Safety Awareness

Union PacificLONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department and Union Pacific Railroad Police have conducted an enforcement operation aimed at educating the public about the dangers of not yielding to trains, according to an LPD news release. Police say it is important for citizens to keep safety in mind when approaching railroad crossings. On Thursday, July 17th, Longview and UP officers climbed aboard a Union Pacific train. As the train approached intersections, officers kept a lookout for motorists who did not yield, while officers on the ground initiated traffic stops on the drivers of the vehicles that were in violation. Nine citations were issued for violation of Transportation Code 545.251, Obedience to Signal Indicating Approach of Train. Read the rest of this entry »

SWEPCO Scam Hits Longview Area

thumb_police-longviewLONGVIEW — Longview police have been receiving calls about a new scam in the area. Scammers have made contact with businesses and citizens locally. Police warn you not to fall victim to this. This scam involves a telephone call in which the caller claims to represent SWEPCO or its parent company, AEP. The customer is told that a certain amount of money must be paid immediately or electric service will be shut off. The scammer usually suggests that the customer purchase a prepaid money card and then provides instructions for using that card to pay the amount supposedly due on the account. Read the rest of this entry »

Rangerettes Kick Off 75th Anniversary with 36 New Members

rangeretteskilgorecollegeKILGORE — 36 young women became the newest members of the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes dance and drill team Friday morning. The announcement, made in a closed ceremony in Dodson Auditorium on the Kilgore campus, culminates a week-long process of 86 hopefuls vying for a coveted position on the 75th Rangerette line. The announcement officially kicks off the Rangerettes’ 75th Anniversary celebration. The new Rangerettes will join 36 sophomores to make a team of 72. Read the rest of this entry »

Gregg County Property Values Up Significantly

LONGVIEW — The value of all taxable property in Gregg County is up by more than $100 million from last year — and that value has doubled since 2003. According to County Judge Bill Stoudt, the certified value of all taxable property in the county is $8.7 billion. Stoudt tells KETK the increased value comes from new construction and the boom in business the county is seeing. However, while the overall property value across the county is up, several values remained the same. According to Stoudt, “Housing that’s been here a long time — the values on that…haven’t gone up a lot this past year.” Stoudt says other entities in which values stayed the same, such as Kilgore College and the White Oak ISD, may have to raise taxes or cut services.

Dallas Teen Arrested in Hit-and-Run That Killed Tyler Native

2014-07-18_091705DALLAS — A teenage girl without a driver’s license was arrested in connection to a Wednesday fatal hit-and-run crash. According to KETK, the crash happened in the middle of the intersection at Walnut Hill Lane and Brockbank Drive, in Dallas, resulting in the death of 27-year-old motorcyclist and Tyler native, Kris Stroman. Police say Stroman was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Walnut Hill Lane as a van was heading westbound. The van then reportedly turned left onto Brockbank in front of Stroman. He hit the van and was thrown off his bike. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Suspects Now in Custody in Three Recent Robberies

triomugsTYLER — Three suspects are now in custody in connection with some recent Tyler robberies. Police say Christopher Charles Nelson was arrested Wednesday in Longview and Danzel Warren turned himself in to authorities in Tyler. Kevin Nelson surrendered to Tyler authorities Thursday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Upshur County Wreck Kills Two

DPS door signGILMER – Two persons have been killed and 3 persons injured on a rain soaked east Texas Highway. The two car accident happened around 8:00 Thursday morning 11 miles west of Gilmer on Highway 154 near the Upshur/Wood County line. Killed was a Harmony High School cheerleader, Brody Stuart, 16, the driver of one of the cars. He died at a Tyler hospital. Another cheerleader in his car, Haley Blackstone, 16, was treated and released. Also killed was the driver of the other car, Anibal Munoz, 30, of Winnsboro. The accident was said to have been caused when her car hydroplaned on the wet pavement. Two passengers in her car, Rodolfo Macario, 29, and Fracisco Munoz, 44, both of Winnsboro, were injured.

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