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In brief: Tax evasion brings federal prison sentence

A Hope, Idaho, businessman who evaded income taxes will spend 3 1/2 years in federal prison.

A judge sentenced Michael G. Fitzpatrick, 51, after his trial revealed he had unpaid personal and corporate income taxes and that he hid money in an offshore account that he used to bankroll gambling jaunts to Las Vegas.

Fitzpatrick’s two companies, which purported to help people eliminate credit card debt, were Dynamic Solutions Inc. and North American Educational Services Inc.

Fitzpatrick last filed a personal tax return in 1996; he argued at trial that income tax laws didn’t apply to him, according to a press release from federal prosecutors. He also underreported his corporate income by nearly $4 million.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Fitzpatrick hid more than $5 million in a bank in the Dominican Republic and used more than $1 million of it to buy real estate and take nine trips to the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.

Race the Joe organizers sure of permit

Organizers of the Race the Joe jet-boat race this weekend near St. Maries say they’re confident they’ll be issued a federal permit to hold the North Idaho event.

The two-day race on the St. Joe River was nearly canceled in recent weeks after the U.S. Coast Guard said it did not have enough time to evaluate the impact the boats may have on nesting bald eagles along the river and issue a permit for the race.

The Coast Guard came under pressure from Gov. Butch Otter, the state’s congressional delegation and the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, all of whom assured the agency that race organizers could mitigate the effect on eagles.

Late Friday, the Coast Guard informed race officials that it was confident it would issue the marine event permit to allow the race to go forward. The American Power Boat Association then reissued insurance coverage for the race along a 25-mile course.

A Coast Guard spokesman in Seattle said Monday the permit application remains under review.

Organizers expect 21 race teams from the United States and Canada.

Grain elevator fire under control

CRAIGMONT, Idaho – A large fire that destroyed a grain elevator and three grain bins in Craigmont was declared contained Monday even as piles of twisted metal and grain continued to smolder.

The fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Hinrichs Trading Co. garbanzo bean elevator. Lewis County authorities said the fire spread to three grain bins.

Grain spilled out the side of the burning elevators and caught fire as the blaze spread from structure to structure. In all, five buildings were destroyed. Damage was still being assessed Monday.

Hazardous materials were removed from the area shortly after the fire was discovered, Lewis County authorities said.

More than two dozen agencies responded to help fight the fire. Officials evacuated several blocks around the fire and worked through the night to protect a nearby Columbia Grain office and storage building.

The Lewis County commission declared a state of emergency in the town of about 500. School was canceled Monday and the Highland High School gymnasium was available for temporarily displaced families.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.