- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014
Man gets nearly 3 years for phony abuse claims

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A bank robber who made phony claims of child sex abuse by priests in four states in an unsuccessful effort to get money has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for mail fraud.

The U.S. attorney’s office says 50-year-old Shamont Sapp was given a 33-month sentence Wednesday in Portland by U.S. District Judge Anna Brown.

The former Pennsylvania resident pleaded guilty to pursuing phony cases against Roman Catholic dioceses in Portland; Tucson, Arizona; Covington, Kentucky; and Spokane, Washington, from 2005 through 2010. Federal prosecutors say he filed the fraudulent claims while he was a federal prison inmate serving lengthy sentences for 10 Pennsylvania bank robberies he committed in 1995.

In each, he claimed he had been sexually abused as a teenage runaway in 1978-79. Disproving the claims required extensive investigative and legal work. The U.S. attorney’s office says the Archdiocese of Portland spent $70,000 disproving Sapp’s allegations.

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Retirement system to appeal bankruptcy ruling

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s troubled retirement system will appeal a recent federal bankruptcy ruling that officials fear could threaten the solvency of the state’s $15.7 billion pension fund.

Seven Counties - a nonprofit community mental health center that serves 31,000 people in and around Louisville - filed for bankruptcy because it said it could not afford its payments to the state retirement system. A federal bankruptcy judge ruled last month that Seven Counties could proceed with its bankruptcy and leave the retirement system.

But the Kentucky Employees Retirement System is the worst-funded major public pension system in the country, according to Fitch Ratings. It has an unfunded liability of $17.1 billion. State retirement consultants say if Seven Counties leaves without paying its share of the liability, it would force other participants - mostly taxpayers - to pay an extra $1 billion over the next 20 years. And if all 13 community mental health centers leave the system, it would cost an extra $2.4 billion over 20 years.

That’s why the Kentucky Retirement System board of trustees voted unanimously to appeal the bankruptcy ruling on Wednesday.

“There were good legal and other reasons for the decision to appeal or pursue an appeal, including trying to ensure the solvency of the trust and the rights of the members,” said Kentucky Retirement Systems Executive Director William Thielen.

The Kentucky Employees Retirement System is one of five retirement plans run by the Kentucky Retirement System. It includes state workers, non-teaching staff at public universities and employees at public health departments - including the state’s 13 community mental health centers. These centers are quasi-government entities that joined the system decades ago after an executive order from the governor.

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Kentucky doctor charged with death of patient

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A south-central Kentucky doctor was charged Wednesday with prescribing pain medications outside of her professional practice and with doing so in one instance that resulted in the death of a patient.

A federal grand jury in Bowling Green handed up a 13-count indictment of Dr. Clella Louise Hayes, 39, of Glasgow, alleging she issued and authorizing prescriptions for fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, Demerol, hydrocodone, Cheratussin, a cold medication containing codeine, and Valium over a five-year period.

Hayes was arrested Wednesday. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville said Hayes surrendered her Drug Enforcement Administration number needed to write prescriptions and was released on bond. Court records did not list an attorney for her.

Hayes is listed among the family practitioners at Monroe County Medical Center in Tompkinsville. A message left for Hayes and hospital administrators was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

The indictment comes four months after the FBI, Kentucky State Police detectives and drug task force members raided Hayes’ office in Tompkinsville. The March 17 raid resulted in investigators taking a variety of medical documents for review.

Hayes is charged with distributing a variety of drugs between 2009 and 2014. Grand jurors alleged that on Sept. 19, 2011, Hayes gave a patient identified only as “A.R.” a prescription for fentanyl, a pain reliever that is also used as an anesthetic, causing the patient to die.

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Kasich signs bill for Ohio-Kentucky bridge tolls

CINCINNATI (AP) - Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Wednesday to allow tolls on a new bridge over the Ohio River that will replace the current overpass, which has been deemed “functionally obsolete.”

The Republican signed the bill at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium with the 51-year-old Brent Spence Bridge as his backdrop.

The bridge, which spans the Ohio River and connects Cincinnati to northern Kentucky along Interstate 75, carries about 172,000 vehicles a day. The reconstructed bridge would more than double that capacity and address safety and traffic concerns that have caused the National Bridge Inventory to label the Brent Spence as “functionally obsolete.”

Despite Kasich’s signing of the bill, tolling is still far down the road. The new bridge isn’t expected to be finished until 2019, and Kentucky also would have to approve legislation to allow for tolling, something lawmakers there vehemently oppose. Construction of the new bridge is set to start by 2016.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, supports it.

Kentucky’s reluctance came up repeatedly during Kasich’s bill signing, with the governor saying that some Ohio officials thought the state should wait until its neighbor to the south was on board.

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