SEATTLE – The Washington House of Representatives has approved a measure giving young illegal immigrants eligibility to state college financial aid.
The House approved the so-called Washington Dream Act on a bipartisan 77-20 vote. They amended the bill on the floor to open college aid to all young illegal immigrants.
The bill’s previous version made only young immigrants who had qualified for the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program eligible for the State Needs Grant. That federal program provides young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children a legal way to live in the country on renewable two-year stays, if they meet certain age and noncriminal history criteria.
Opponents say the bill promises financial aid while the state struggles to give help to current students.
Supporters say the measure gives a better future to immigrants who came here without a choice.
Man convicted in $200,000 claim fraud
A man who exaggerated the size of a damaged patio cover was convicted in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday for filing a fraudulent insurance claim for nearly $200,000.
In reality, the patio cover was “small and nothing special or significant,” according to a news release from the Washington state insurance commissioner’s office, but 48-year-old Keith R. Scribner painted a different story when he filed a claim for a roof damaged by the weight of snow in 2009.
Scribner filed the claim on behalf of his mother, whose policy covered a replacement, the release said. Even the claims representative thought the bids were a joke, and Scribner was unable to prove the size of the cover through photos.
Investigators contacted the previous homeowners who described the cover as originally canvas. They bought a polycarbonate cover for about $300. Additional interviews with builders speculated bids would range to about $4,800.
Scribner will be sentenced April 16 for insurance fraud and attempted theft.
Forum will focus on mental health
A forum next week will address the effects of the Affordable Care Act on mental health care in Spokane County.
The Spokane City Forum luncheon will run from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church, 318 S. Cedar St. Optional breakout sessions will go from 1 to 2 p.m.
Speakers will include Christine Barada, who runs Spokane County’s Community Services, Housing and Community Development Department, and Jeff Thomas, CEO of Frontier Behavioral Health, formerly Spokane Mental Health.
After lunch, participants can attend sessions on older adults and mental health; hiring people with mental illness; and the effects of mental illness on families.
Cost: $15, or $5 for students. Reserve a spot by noon Monday by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (509) 777-1555.
Inmate indicted for prison mail fraud
BOISE – An Idaho prison inmate who prosecutors say netted at least $64,000 by running a mail fraud scheme from an Oklahoma prison cell was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.
Mark Anthony Brown, who is serving time on a burglary conviction at the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino, was indicted on 12 felony counts of mail fraud in U.S. District Court. He has not yet entered a plea.
According to the indictment, federal prosecutors contend Brown committed the fraud between 2007 and 2009, when he was part of a group of Idaho inmates serving time at an Oklahoma private prison under a contract with the state.
Brown allegedly submitted phony claim forms to the administrators of various class-action lawsuit and bankruptcy settlements, pretending to be entitled to some of the payout. Prosecutors say he would then deposit the money in his Idaho Department of Correction trust account and other bank accounts.
Prosecutors say a search of Brown’s cell in 2009 turned up a dozen phony letters purporting to be from nonexistent law firms, and the letters claimed Brown was entitled to money from various legal settlements with companies like IBM Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and NovaStar Financial Inc. According to the indictment, the federal grand jury believes there is evidence Brown actually collected money from several settlements, including nearly $30,000 from GlaxoSmithKline PLC over drug prices and more than $5,000 in a bond settlement case.
Trooper shoots own leg during training
SHELTON, Wash. – A Washington State Patrol spokesman said a 46-year-old trooper accidentally shot himself in the leg Wednesday afternoon during a training exercise at the patrol’s academy in Shelton.
Sgt. Freddy Williams said the trooper was drawing his .40-caliber gun out of its holster when it accidentally discharged. The bullet hit him in the thigh.
Williams said the trooper was in satisfactory condition at a local hospital and would have a surgical procedure to remove bullet debris from the leg.
Williams said the trooper would be identified after relatives were notified.