What’s news in the Northwest today:
BURLEY, Idaho — A south-central Idaho woman has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $100,000 from the Dairy Queen in Burley by voiding cash register entries and pocketing the money. The Times-News reports 31-year-old Lisa Ann Fabela agreed to plead guilty to grand theft for taking $97,590 from the Burley Dairy Queen from April 2007 to December 2009. Prosecutors are recommending 1-1/2 to 10 years in prison when she is sentenced in 5th District Court on March 22. The plea agreement will also require Fabela to pay an undetermined amount of restitution. In her plea agreement, Fabela said she kept some of the money with the intent of repaying it at some point. Court records say the restaurant owner discovered dozens of voided cash register entries at the drive-up window on days when Fabela worked.
Grandmother enters plea in neglect case
COEUR d’ALENE — The grandmother of twin 2-year-old girls found with injuries and living in filthy conditions has reached a plea in the neglect case. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports 55-year-old Ruth K. Cassidy entered an Alford plea to one count of felony injury to a child. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second count. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to get a conviction. District Judge John Luster scheduled Cassidy’s sentencing for April 13. Kootenai County deputy prosecutor Donna Gardner says 26-year-old Elisabeth Crossley is likely to be arraigned next week. She is also charged with two counts of felony injury to a child after her children were found in a bedroom with no clothes and dried feces caked on their bodies.
Man fatally stabbed in fight at Salem tavern
SALEM, Ore. — Police have arrested a suspect in a fatal stabbing at a Salem tavern. Officers responding to the fight late Monday night at the 50 West Tavern found bystanders trying to help 24-year-old Christopher Lindsay. He was taken to a Salem hospital where he died. Police say Lindsay and another person were involved in a fight when another man approached and stabbed him. The suspect fled on a motorcycle. A Marion County sheriff’s deputy located the suspect early today, and Salem detectives arrested 32-year-old Brent W. Phillips of Salem on a manslaughter charge.
Oregon man acquitted in fire faces new charges
ASHLAND, Ore. — A homeless man acquitted of charges in a fire that destroyed 11 houses in Ashland last summer has been charged with throwing a plastic traffic pin onto a freeway. The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that 40-year-old John Thiry now faces a felony charge of throwing an object from an overpass and two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct. Police said a driver on a bridge over Interstate 5 called 9-1-1 after watching Thiry pick up the orange traffic pin and throw it onto the freeway, but it did not hit any cars. Police said Thiry later became aggressive as he panhandled at a shopping center. A judge last month acquitted Thiry of 24 counts involving the August fire in the Oak Knoll neighborhood resulting from a grass fire blamed on Thiry.
Man convicted in LA of foreclosure scam
LOS ANGELES — A Washington state man is facing up to 180 years in federal prison for defrauding people who lost their homes to foreclosure. Jeff McGrue of Tacoma man was convicted last Friday in Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors say McGrue’s company, Gateway International, promised to delay or prevent foreclosures by having at least 250 victims sign over title to their homes. In return, McGrue sent the lenders more than $50 million in phony promissory notes that he claimed were backed by the U.S. Treasury. Authorities say McGrue didn’t save a single home but he collected at least $800,000 in fees and rent from victims. He also got titles so he cold resell the properties. Three other men pleaded guilty last year to taking part in the scheme and are facing prison terms.
Washington developing policy on pets at schools
EVERETT, Wash. — Washington is in the process of asking school districts to draft policies on what pets — other than service animals — should be allowed in classrooms. The Daily Herald of Everett reports the policy was to go into effect in July, but is now on hold due to budget problems. State Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer says the idea is to protect students who may suffer from asthma or pick up germs from animals. For example, turtles and snakes can spread salmonella. The Edmonds School District adopted a policy in November that bans most animals except service and therapy dogs. Other dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, reptiles and even ant farms are banned. Small turtles, fish and frogs are OK if they are kept in clean aquariums.
DUI for drugs fails in committee
HELENA, Mont. — A plan to issue DUIs for those under the influence of dangerous drugs got shot down amid concerns there is no valid test for determining impairment. The measure was a small piece of the drunk driving reform working through the Legislature. A much larger initiative that would require repeat drunk driving offenders to undergo twice-daily breath tests at their own expense was unanimously endorsed Tuesday by a committee and will go to the full House. But members of the House Judiciary Committee from across the political spectrum opposed a plan to create offenses for driving under the influence of drugs. Opponents argued there is no valid blood test to prove who is impaired by drugs. This could lead to costly court appeals.
Maximum sentence for Toppenish gang shooting
YAKIMA, Wash. — A man who killed two young men in a gang shooting in Toppenish was given the maximum 50-year prison term at his sentencing Monday in Yakima for second-degree murder and assault. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that 22-year-old Anthony Sanchez sat quietly in Yakima County Superior Court as relatives tearfully described the victims of the March 2009 shooting, 17-year-old Estevan Silva Jr. and 20-year-old Israel Diaz. Sanchez’ 21-year-old sister, Isabel Sanchez, who was driving the car from which her brother fired, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
Former sheriff’s deputy pleads not guilty to theft
POCATELLO, Idaho — A former Bannock County sheriff’s deputy accused of embezzling at least $1,000 from the sheriff’s union has pleaded not guilty. The Idaho State Journal reports Amber Spencer entered her plea to felony grand theft on Monday before 6th District Judge David Nye. An April 5 trial date was set. The suspected theft was investigated by Pocatello police and Minidoka County is prosecuting the case. Spencer’s attorney, Keith Zollinger, says Spencer is charged with taking at least $1,000 from the Bannock County Deputy Sheriff’s Association between Nov. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2010.