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In brief: Woman arrested in arson case said she wanted to be in jail

Thu., March 28, 2013, midnight

A woman started a fire in a Chattaroy garage Wednesday because she was not happy with her living arrangements, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Amanda Cook, 24, told deputies she intentionally started the fire near the 32700 block of Elk-Chattaroy Road just before 2 p.m. because she wanted to be in jail, the release said.

Deputies granted that desire by arresting her on suspicion of first-degree arson and booking her into Spokane County Jail.

Spokane Fire District 4 investigators had deemed the fire suspicious earlier because Cook allegedly lit a mattress on fire at the same address Tuesday, Division Chief Bob Bender said.

Wednesday’s blaze quickly extended to an attached mobile home, Bender said. It took about 25 firefighters to bring the fire under control.

Nobody was injured, but two people were displaced because the fire destroyed about half of the mobile home. The Red Cross is helping the family, Bender said.

Cook told deputies she soaked a towel in gasoline and lit it on fire inside the garage. She also took her dog to a neighbor’s home, the release said.

House panel hears payday bill

OLYMPIA – A Washington state House committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill to allow a new type of low-dollar, high-interest loan pushed by the payday lending industry.

The measure heard Wednesday in the House Business and Financial Services Committee would allow for loans of up to $1,500 that must be paid off within a year. A borrower paying off such a loan on time would pay slightly more than 100 percent of the principal in interest and fees.

The Senate passed a version of the bill last month, but the new version includes more consumer protections.

The interest rate and fees are unchanged from those in the Senate version, however. They include 36 percent annual interest, a monthly fee of 7.5 percent of the full loan amount that is capped at $90 per month, and an upfront fee of 15 percent of the loan, up to half of which is refundable if it is repaid early.

Bill opponents cited a 2009 state law that reined in payday lending practices. Under that law, payday lenders can only lend up to $700 at a time, and the loans must be repaid within 45 days.

Man sentenced for embezzling

PASCO – A judge has sentenced a former Franklin County employee to 16 years in prison for embezzlement in what the state auditor called the largest public embezzlement case in state history.

Dennis Huston pleaded guilty in January to theft, money laundering and cocaine possession. He was accused of embezzling $2.8 million, beginning in 1989 until he was fired as Franklin County Public Works accounting director last year.

Huston started working for Franklin County about eight months after he was paroled from federal prison. He had been convicted of stealing $142,000 in 1986 while working for the federal Bureau of Reclamation in Montana.


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