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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Former deputy undersheriff claims sheriff chest-bumped him outside candidate forum

A former Spokane County deputy undersheriff said he was chest-bumped by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich earlier this month outside a candidate forum.

The incident is under investigation by the Spokane Police Department, a police spokeswoman said.

Knezovich denied the accusation, saying Dave Wiyrick jabbed him with his fingers.

“It didn’t happen,” Knezovich said.

Wiyrick, who left the sheriff’s office in 2006, said he and Knezovich exchanged harsh words in the parking lot outside the Oct. 23 forum at the Northeast Community Center after Wiyrick asked a pointed question on public safety funding during the forum. The alleged chest-bump followed.

David Brookbank, a witness, called police to report the incident as an assault. Wiyrick said he is not acquainted with Brookbank.

Wiyrick has contributed to challenger Doug Orr’s campaign to unseat Knezovich.

Wiyrick said there’s been bad blood between him and Knezovich since he was the undersheriff and Knezovich’s boss.

“Neither one of us like each other,” Wiyrick said.

Mike Prager

Utility panel approves natural gas rate hike

More than 1.2 million natural gas customers in Washington will pay more for fuel beginning Saturday as a result of higher wholesale natural gas costs and colder than average temperatures last winter.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the increases Thursday for the state’s four natural gas utility companies, including Avista Utilites.

Typical residential customers, using 65 therms of natural gas per month, will see their monthly Avista bills rise by 1.1 percent to $61.84.

Natural gas companies submit filings to the state every year for rate adjustments based on wholesale price flucuations.

The utilities distribute natural gas to customers but don’t produce their own fuel. About half of Washington’s natural gas supplies come from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the other half from the western U.S., including Wyoming.

Becky Kramer

Doctor facing child rape charges waives bail

A man jailed and facing federal charges of sexually assaulting and filming children during sex acts will remain behind bars after waiving a bail hearing Thursday afternoon.

Craig Morgenstern, a Spokane Veterans Affairs hospital physician, will begin his second week in the Spokane County Jail on Friday. He was brought to the Spokane jail from Stevens County, where he was twice arrested and charged with child rape and possession of child pornography.

Morgenstern’s first arrest came after a boy told police he’d fallen asleep and been molested by the physician at Morgenstern’s Nine Mile Falls home. The boy escaped the home and ran to a neighbor, who called 911.

U.S. Assistant Attorney James Goeke asked U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers to order Morgenstern not to have any contact with potential witnesses in the case while he is in jail.

“I think that would be a real good idea,” Rodgers said. Morgenstern nodded as Rodgers told him not to contact any witnesses in the case.

Kip Hill

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