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July 22, 2008, midnight
A man who cut and removed 27 old-growth cedar trees from the Wenatchee National Forest in 2004 will serve about 9 months in prison and be required to pay $37,688 in restitution. Kevin John Moran, of Stanwood, Wash., was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane by Senior Judge Fred Van Sickle.
July 19, 2008, midnight
The state of Washington blames Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway locomotives for starting six blazes along its tracks that grew into a 365-acre complex of wildfires last summer. The fires destroyed one home and millions of dollars in timber southwest of Spokane.
July 18, 2008, midnight
It probably will take months and maybe a judge or jury to conclusively decide if anyone is legally responsible for last week’s devastating Spokane Valley fire that destroyed 11 homes and cost $3 million to control. Investigators for the Spokane Valley Fire Department say they aren’t going to criminally charge anyone, but the state’s Department of Natural Resources still could seek criminal charges or civil damages for firefighting costs.
July 17, 2008, midnight
In one of the largest drug raids in the past decade in Spokane, a federal gang task force has arrested two dozen people and is looking for eight additional suspects, authorities announced Wednesday. The arrests in “Operation Hybris” – capping an 18-month investigation – began at dawn Wednesday in Spokane. Twenty people were under arrest by 5 p.m. Four more were nabbed in Seattle and Tacoma.
July 15, 2008, midnight
As young firefighter Marty Shier returned to the Dishman Hills fire lines Monday night for another 12-hour shift, he continued fulfilling a goal he set following a family tragedy 15 years ago. His two older sisters died in a middle-of-the-night rural cabin fire in 1993, leaving their 4-year-old brother dreaming about becoming a firefighter someday – to help save lives and property.
July 12, 2008, midnight
Spokane County called on a new band of volunteers – a team called HEART – in dealing with horses, goats, dogs, cats and other livestock evacuated by the Valley fire Thursday. The team of volunteers formed as one of the lessons learned from the 1991 firestorm, which destroyed 112 homes, according to Nancy Hill, director of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, or SCRAPS.
July 11, 2008, midnight
Construction of the controversial Sand Creek Byway in Sandpoint has been temporarily blocked by an injunction issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal appeals court late Wednesday issued the injunction halting the project until it reviews a lower court ruling in a 2005 lawsuit filed by the North Idaho Community Action Network against the Idaho Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
July 9, 2008, midnight
A man who was selling reverse mortgages to senior citizens in Spokane earlier this year after being convicted of federal securities fraud in Colorado has been sentenced to five years in prison. Upon his release, Michael Duane Smith must complete three years of federal parole, make $52,015 in restitution and pay a $75,000 fine.
July 6, 2008, midnight
Operators of a Spokane diploma mill are heading to federal prison, while senior Justice Department officials say they are going to keep secret the names of the 10,815 buyers who used the bogus and counterfeit degrees to get jobs, promotions and enhanced retirements. James A. McDevitt, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, reversed his earlier public promise to release the names, saying last week that a Justice Department policy prevents him from releasing them.
July 4, 2008, midnight
A federal judge is being asked to order the city of Spokane to participate in a court-supervised settlement of a civil rights lawsuit brought by a teenage girl who claims she was raped and photographed by an on-duty firefighter in a North Side firehouse. The girl, who was 16 at the time of the incident, is seeking $6 million in damages after initially filing a $1 million claim that was rejected by the city. The girl's attorney, J. Scott Miller, filed the civil rights damages suit in U.S. District Court in December 2006.
June 25, 2008, midnight
The director of a Korean War museum traveled Tuesday from Chicago to Spokane Valley to meet with businessman, veteran and philanthropist Jack Pring, who earlier this month called the nonprofit a scam for having raised $6 million and spent most of those charitable gifts on fundraising instead of a permanent home. Larry Sassorossi, executive director of the 10-year-old Korean War National Museum, joked about "walking into the lion's den" when he sat down at a conference table in Pring's office building.
June 22, 2008, midnight
Ten members of a Spokane-based volleyball organization have filed an amended lawsuit demanding a financial accounting and access to the business records of the nonprofit group. The lawsuit, filed in Spokane County Superior Court last week, was brought against the U.S. Volleyball Association Evergreen Region and its executive director, Jonathan Lee, commissioner emeritus Kevin Twohig and six other members of the group's executive board.
June 21, 2008, midnight
The owner of Stateline Speedway in Post Falls may soon operate another track just across the border. Stateline Speedway earned the best rating of the four operators who bid to run Spokane Raceway Park, said John Botelli, Spokane County parks special projects manager and member of the five-person committee that ranked the bidders.
June 21, 2008, midnight
For the fourth year, the U.S. Marshals Service teamed up this past week with state and local agencies, arresting 96 fugitives in Eastern Washington, U.S. Marshal Michael Kline announced today. "This year we focused primarily on violent crimes and sex offenders," Kline said at a news conference.
June 20, 2008, midnight
Spokane County's attempt to buy Spokane Raceway Park got a surprise red flag Thursday when Superior Court Judge Robert Austin stepped aside from deciding whether to approve highest-bidder sales from a public auction. The judge recused himself from the decision to approve the sales, but not from other aspects of the contentious five-year-old lawsuit, after a Seattle attorney questioned the propriety of Austin's attendance at the April 10 auction he ordered.
June 15, 2008, midnight
A nationally recognized nonprofit group has collected more than $6 million, promising to build a Korean War museum in Illinois with tax-deductible donations from veterans in Spokane and across the United States. But after a decade of direct-mail pitches, with endorsement letters from former astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and actor James Garner, the nonprofit reported less than $150,000 in assets in its last public financial report filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
June 11, 2008, midnight
The Spokane County public defender's office was shut down Tuesday because of a backup in a 55-year-old sewer line county maintenance crews said they didn't know about and hasn't been maintained. "There was standing sewer water in the restroom," county risk manager Steve Bartel said after surveying the damage and calling in a private contractor to help clean up the mess. A damage estimate wasn't available.
June 3, 2008, midnight
A Spokane man whose fraud scheme led to the multimillion-dollar collapse of a Montana bank in the 1990s is now under investigation for allegedly swindling his 95-year-old Spokane aunt out of $836,000. Those details surfaced Monday when John Earl Petersen, who boldly walked out of a federal courtroom in Spokane six months ago and became a fugitive, was back in the same courtroom – this time in handcuffs and under guard by two deputy U.S. marshals.
May 23, 2008, midnight
A Spokane woman accused of lying on a juror questionnaire before being selected for a jury told U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea on Thursday she "forgot about" previous civil lawsuits involving her. Her "dishonest answers" to the court and her subsequent involvement as a juror in a multimillion-dollar product liability suit against Ford Motor Co. means plaintiff Crystal Bear, paralyzed in a Ford Bronco II rollover, didn't get a fair trial, Bear's attorney Richard Eymann argued.
May 22, 2008, midnight
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea refused Wednesday to grant a new trial or set aside a jury's murder verdict against Norman "Griz" Ford, convicted in February of first-degree murder in a 2006 home-invasion on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Ford's attorney, Mark Vovos, had requested a new trial, arguing that jury instructions were changed by the court after jury deliberations were begun.
May 21, 2008, midnight
The founder of the Eastern Washington skinheads was sentenced Tuesday to 14 months in federal prison for smuggling an illegal immigrant into the United States. James Douglas Ross, 26, of Spokane, was given an additional six months, to be served consecutively, by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Frem Nielsen for violating terms of supervised release from a previous federal conviction.
May 14, 2008, midnight
A father and son from Spokane Valley, accused of a $1.7 million fraud in worldwide sales of wireless smoke detectors, were arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court. James "Jimmy" Jensen, 63, and his son, Ryan Jensen, 34, both entered not guilty pleas to a 32-count indictment returned April 24, accusing them of wire and mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to violate federal laws.
May 12, 2008, midnight
Human trafficking activities – ranging from mail-order brides to forced teenage prostitution – are causing "considerable concern" in the Spokane region, a new study concludes. "Trafficking victims work on our streets, are often held captive in residents' homes and hotels, and travel over our highways to other destinations where they will experience further exploitation and abuse," according to the report prepared for the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety.