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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Jury commits man it deemed violent sex offender

A man who once escaped from Geiger Corrections Center and raped a 14-year-old girl while out of jail on court-approved furlough has been sentenced to the Special Commitment Center for sex offenders on McNeil Island.

James E. Jones, 62, was scheduled to be released from prison in Februrary 2013 when the state Attorney General’s Office filed a civil commitment request. A jury ruled Tuesday that Jones is a sexually violent predator and should be confined on McNeil Island, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Prior to his 1996 arrest for rape, Jones had five felony convictions and 23 misdemeanor convictions. He had also been arrested twice before on suspicion of rape in 1986 and 1992 but never charged.

He was in jail on a first-degree theft charge when an eight-day furlough was approved so Jones could attend to a family emergency. It was during that furlough in 1996 that Jones grabbed a 14-year-old girl, forced her into a garage and raped her. He was convicted of two counts of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion and unlawful imprisonment.

Jones was convicted of third-degree assault in 2011, less than a year after being released from prison.

Shelter quarantined after disease found

The Spokane Humane Society has imposed a 14-day quarantine after a dog tested positive for canine parvovirus and a kitten tested positive for feline distemper.

Both viral diseases are highly contagious. The shelter will be closed to the public while staff monitor the animals housed there and disinfect the facility, according to a news release from the organization. The shelter also will not be accepting new animals.

People who have adopted a dog or cat from the facility within the last two weeks should look for symptoms. A dog infected with the parvovirus will have a loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, bloody diarrhea and odd-smelling feces. Cats with feline distemper will show similar symptoms. If an animal appears to be ill, the owner should contact a veterinarian immediately.

Pet owners are urged to vaccinate their pets to prevent such diseases, the organization said.

Earthquake drill is ‘drop, cover’ lesson

If you are talking to someone this morning who suddenly drops to the ground, crawls under a desk and holds on, it’s not necessarily a sign that they need help. They’re likely participating in the Great Washington Shakeout, an annual exercise designed to practice what to do during an earthquake.

The Emergency Management Division of the state Military Department says it has more than 1 million people signed up to take part in the “drop, cover and hold on” exercise at 10:16 a.m. Some schools will have earthquake drills. Coastal cities also will test their tsunami warning sirens. Television stations may air stories on what could happen when a major quake, or “the big one,” hits somewhere in Washington.

Builder accused of being unregistered

Criminal charges have been filed against a Mead builder who allegedly bilked homeowners on the West Side out of more than $12,000 while acting as an unregistered contractor.

Stephen P. Ranson has been charged in King County Superior Court with a single count of practicing as an unregistered contractor, a gross misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and 364 days in jail. Investigators from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries say Ranson gave homeowners an estimate on a job to extend a retaining wall in their backyards and collected a down payment of $12,015.

But Ranson was not a registered contractor with the state when he gave that estimate, and the company he claimed to be working for belonged to a relative whose license was suspended with the state, according to court records.

The Department of Labor and Industries cautions homeowners not to pay large deposits up front for contracting work and to check that contractors are registered with the state before entering an agreement. The agency offers an online database to search for a worker’s employment history and registration status.

Phone threat is scam, state says

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Corrections is warning the public about a scam.

Officials say it has received reports from more than a dozen people, mainly from the eastern United States, about a call they received threatening them with jail time if they didn’t pay $680 by the end of the day.

The calls do not come from the department, Norah West, a corrections spokeswoman, said. Anyone who receives a call is cautioned not to give any personal information, and to report it by calling the department at (360) 725-8213.

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