- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015
Authorities investigating death of man discovered in roadway

BEREA, Ky. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of a man who was found lying in a roadway in Madison County, Kentucky.

According to WKYT-TV (https://bit.ly/1iq5mSg), Berea police were called to the intersection of Prospect Street and Forest Street around 11:56 p.m. Friday night where 71-year-old Billy Croucher was discovered unresponsive.

Investigators believe he may have been hit by a car, but said no other vehicles were present at the time he was found.

The Madison County Coroner’s office pronounced Croucher dead at the scene.



Man facing $8.7M embezzlement case hid on Appalachian Trail

CINCINNATI (AP) - He was known as “Bismarck,” a genial, thick-bearded hiker who had become a familiar character along the Appalachian Trail over the past six years, and a regular at Susie Montgomery’s bed-and-breakfast in a small Virginia town - until the day the FBI showed up.

“I’d say he was one of my favorite guests,” said Montgomery, whose four-bedroom Montgomery Homestead Inn offers on its website a place to “forget life’s stresses” for a slower, simpler life. “He was a smart man, interesting to talk to; a pleasant personality. All of the other people who stayed here liked him.”

He was in his room, she recalled, on May 16 during the annual Trail Days festival that brings thousands of people into tiny Damascus, Virginia, when she responded to a knock on the door. She recounted finding three agents, one holding up a picture of Bismarck. He told her they believed her guest was someone the FBI wanted, she said. Her husband spotted someone guarding the back door.

Soon Bismarck was being led away in handcuffs, and the FBI was announcing the arrest of James T. Hammes, a white-collar crime suspect missing since 2009.

“They allowed me to hug him,” she said. “He whispered to me that he was sorry that this happened.”

The 53-year-old Lexington, Kentucky, accountant now sits in a southwest Ohio county jail. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial next month in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on charges that he embezzled nearly $9 million from his Ohio-based employer, an indictment handed up after he had already disappeared, apparently into the 2,200-mile trail stretching from Georgia to Maine.


Gay marriage fight shifts as politicians spy an opportunity

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Politicians who may have thought they wouldn’t have to say much at all about gay marriage once the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized it now must answer a different question: Do you support Kim Davis?

The Rowan County clerk, who has become a darling of many conservatives despite being a Democrat, cited “God’s authority” and religious liberty in choosing jail time over issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some social conservatives have cast Davis as a hero, shifting the gay marriage debate from one about civil liberties - a matter that appeared to have been settled - to one about religious liberty.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher running for president but trailing badly in the polls, rushed to Davis’ side and said it was unfair the government would not accommodate her beliefs. A judge ultimately freed Davis on the condition she not interfere with her deputies issuing the licenses. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also traveled to Morehead to bask in her defiance. And Kentucky Republican governor hopeful Matt Bevin has tried to capitalize on her recent celebrity.

Others find themselves in a more awkward position. Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee in the state’s closely watched governor’s race, eventually declined to defend the state’s gay marriage ban as attorney general and now must dodge attacks from Bevin, even though both candidates favor carving out an exemption in state law for Davis. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose presidential campaign has focused more on economics than social issues, first said Davis should follow the rule of law. But in last week’s GOP presidential debate, he agreed that “there needs to be an accommodation for someone acting on their faith.”

In the same debate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum compared Davis to a student killed in the Columbine High School massacre who reportedly told one of the gunmen she believed in God before she was shot. And Huckabee said it wasn’t fair that the government allowed the suspected Fort Hood shooter to grow a beard in prison for religious reasons but would not accommodate Davis’ beliefs.

Piggybacking on Davis’ fight could be risky because she refused to fulfill her duties as an elected official and defied several federal court orders, said Matt Mackowiak, who leads the Super PAC “Fight for Kentucky” that is supporting Bevin. He said any ad built around Davis would have to be “very, very carefully constructed.”

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