What’s news in the Northwest today:
COEUR D’ALENE — Officials at transfer stations in northern Idaho say they’ve been targeted in recent weeks by thieves seeking valuable metals and other goods. Roger Saterfiel with Kootenai County Solid Waste told the Coeur d’Alene Press that employees at one transfer station found that about $650 worth of brass and copper had been stolen, along with several televisions. In the last two months, other transfer stations in Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene have seen similar thefts. Saterfiel says the poor economy combined with the high prices of recyclables makes the stations attractive targets for criminals. He says the department is considering adding security cameras to the stations.
Colville man, stepdaughter were both shot in head
SPOKANE — The Stevens County coroner told KREM that the Colville man and his stepdaughter who were found dead April 28 near Kettle Falls both died from gunshot wounds to the head. The coroner isn’t saying yet whether the deaths of 32-year-old Jason Lykke and 14-year-old Alora Smith where a murder-suicide. But Ann Lykke told KREM she believes her husband and daughter were in a sexual relationship. She says she discovered intimate letters between the two. She also says the stepdad and her daughter were members of the Wiccan religion and believed they would spend the afterlife together.
Questionable school record for UW hoop start
SEATTLE — The athletic director at Garfield High School in Seattle was fired last month after he was accused of giving passing grades to basketball star Tony Wooten and another athlete in a non-existent class. The Seattle Times reports Wooten will still be able to enter the University of Washington if he passes his final semester of Spanish this year. In firing athletic director Jim Valiere, the Seattle School District said he gave Wooten and the other student, Valentino Coleman, “C” grades in an independent study Spanish class that never met and had no textbook or coursework. Investigators found Valiere did little more than occasionally quiz the students in the hallway. Valiere denies doing anything wrong. Tony Wooten’s father told the Times his son did nothing wrong.
Idaho man sentenced for shooting kids with air gun
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho Falls man has been sentenced to five days in jail for disciplining his children by shooting them in the legs with an air rifle. Twenty-nine-year-old Joshua Brotherson pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of injury to a child. He was ordered to one year probation and also got an additional 90 days in jail, all of which are suspended. In exchange for his guilty plea, the Post-Register reports that three other counts of injury to a child were dropped. Police say Brotherson lined up his two sons and two stepsons against a wall and shot at their as a form of punishment. All the children were younger than 10. Brotherson was cited in March after a school official and a Child Protection Services representative saw welts on the boys’ calves.
Enhanced charges in store for elder-abuse defendant
WENATCHEE, Wash. – A woman accused of beating the elderly couple who adopted her was arraigned on domestic violence charges Wednesday, even as prosecutors said they would seek more severe charges later this month. Lena May Grove, 50, is charged with injuring and endangering the senior husband and wife at the home where she lived with and cared for them. The couple adopted her as their daughter about a year ago to legally facilitate her caregiving, according to sheriff’s deputies. She was arraigned Wednesday in Chelan County Superior Court on one count of second-degree assault, three of third-degree assault, two of fourth-degree assault and one of reckless endangerment. The sentences for the highest charges range up to 10 years in prison.
Nezperce woman guilty of theft from credit union
NEZPERCE, Idaho — The former accounting manager of a north-central Idaho credit union has been ordered to pay more than $11,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to grand theft. The Lewiston Tribune reports 64-year-old Lorna D. Vickroy pleaded guilty last week to stealing money from expense accounts at the Kamiah Community Credit Union between August 2009 and January 2011. Prosecutors say she transferred just over $6,700 into her personal account in a series of thefts. During last Wednesday’s sentencing, 2nd District Judge Michael J. Griffin also ordered Vickroy to pay $4,750 for the audit. Lewis County Prosecutor Kimron R. Torgerson says jail time was not recommended because the credit union was seeking restitution.
Des Moines teens could face pornography charges
SEATTLE — Teens who shared cell phone video of a couple having sex in Des Moines could be prosecuted for child pornography. KOMO reports police are investigating Mount Rainier High School students for the video recorded Friday at a party. The 17-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl consented to the video, which spread quickly among students. School officials contacted police Tuesday, and detectives have confiscated three cell phones to review evidence.
Tacoma-Pierce County may ban electronic cigarettes
TACOMA — The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is considering a ban on battery-powered electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine without smoking. The News Tribune reports that regulations proposed Wednesday would ban e-smoking — or “vaping” — in the same public places where the use of real cigarettes and cigars are prohibited by state law. King County adopted such a ban in January. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Board will consider the ban at its June 1 meeting.
Audit flags potential fake worker documents at Fiesta Foods
YAKIMA, Wash. – At least 24 current and former employees of Fiesta Foods in Yakima were recently identified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as carrying potentially fake documentation, a company attorney said Wednesday. ICE notified Fiesta Foods in April of the results of an employment audit conducted over several previous months, Julie Pace, a Phoenix-based attorney working for the company, said in a telephone interview. As a result of the audit, the grocer on April 26 fired some employees, said Pace, declining to specify how many were let go. She said others identified as potentially illegal are formally contesting ICE’s challenge, though Pace wouldn’t say how many are in this category. ICE has not accused the company of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
Idaho gets $47,000 in settlement with drug maker
BOISE — A global pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay Idaho $47,000 to settle a fraud lawsuit over a prescription drug for treating multiple sclerosis. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced the settlement Wednesday. Idaho’s case is part of bigger lawsuit involved several states and the federal government against EMD Serono, Inc. The company makes Rebif, a prescription drug used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. State and federal attorneys alleged the company made inappropriate payments to hundreds of doctors for prescribing Rebif between 2002 and 2009. Of Idaho’s share, more than $18,000 will go to the state Medicaid program as restitution, while the additional $28,000 will go into the state’s general fund. Altogether, the company agreed to pay more than $44.3 million to the federal government and other states.
NPS to release Yellowstone snowmobile plan
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The National Park Service is releasing its recommendation for how many snowmobiles should be allowed in Yellowstone National Park during the winter. The agency has been studying a range of options for future snowmobile use in the park, ranging from allowing 720 machines a day to an outright ban. Its recommendation is scheduled to be released this afternoon and will be followed by more study and public comment. The dispute over snowmobiles in the nation’s first national park has been going on for years. Environmentalists want them banned from the park, while snowmobile manufacturers, users and want to see their use continued. If a new rule for snowmobiles is not adopted by next winter, the machines will be barred from the park until a different rule is adopted.
Memorial for southwest Washington K-9 killed on duty
VANCOUVER, Wash. – A public memorial service for a Clark County, Wash., sheriff’s office K-9 killed on duty has been scheduled today at the county event center at the county fairgrounds in Ridgefield. The 8-year-old Dutch shepherd named Kane was fatally stabbed April 2. He had served with the sheriff’s office for six years and worked with Deputy Rick Osborne. A reception is planned after the 1 p.m. service. The Columbian says 31-year-old H. Keegan Graves of La Center has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, and one charge each of harming a police dog, attempting to elude police and possessing a stolen vehicle. His trial is set for July 18.
Fiery train derailment causes evacuation in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. – A train collision on U.S. 30 west of Cornelius Pass Road, just northwest of Portland, caused a two-alarm fire Wednesday and an evacuation of the area within half-mile of the wreck. Authorities say a rail car loaded with lumber derailed into tanker cars filled with a flammable substance, which set of a large fire, according to the Oregonian. The fire was visible for more than a mile outside Scappoose. The collision caused the closure of Highway 30. The train’s owner told Portland’s KGW-TV that a train with 59 lumber cars was traveling westbound when it derailed. The derailed trains hit a group of 20 stationary tanker cars on a side track, including 13 ethanol tanker cars, causing the fiery blaze. Crews from the Portland Fire Bureau and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue had to pull back from the fire because of concern about the possible explosion or exposure to the toxic fumes.