NEW ORLEANS — Prosecutors say a 55-year-old Mandeville woman accused of embezzling $1.37 million from her employer over a five-year period pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
Melody Huie entered her plea Wednesday.
Huie faces up to 25 years in prison when she returns to court for sentencing on March 20.
Baker tornado damage tallied
BAKER — A tornado that ripped through Baker on Monday damaged at least 87 homes and other buildings, city officials say.
The hardest-hit area appeared to be a residential section on South Magnolia Drive and Cypress Drive.
The tornado crossed La. 19 and traveled through several neighborhoods before moving on and eventually dissipating.
Police officers and public works employees compiled the bulk of the damage survey.
Mom ruled incompetent for trial in child killings
NEW ORLEANS — A mother accused in the deaths of her 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter was ruled incompetent to stand trial Thursday by a New Orleans magistrate judge.
Chelsea Thornton, 23, will remain in jail under medical treatment until space becomes available at a state mental hospital in East Feliciana Parish.
Thornton is charged with two counts first-degree murder, facing a possible death sentence if found guilty as charged.
The charges technically will proceed if the district attorney choses to present the case to the grand jury while Thornton is being treated.
Thornton’s attorney, Lionel “Lon” Burns, said she would enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
“We have reams of medical records that show she has long suffered from mental illness,” Burns said.
City sets taxi permit deadline
NEW ORLEANS — City officials say they will stop taking applications for 105 new taxicab permits on Friday at noon.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office said a large number of applications has been received since the city announced Monday that it would be handing out new certificates of public necessity and convenience for the first time in decades.
The new permits are part of a broader effort to bring the city’s taxicab fleet in line with new regulations requiring upgrades such as credit card machines and GPS devices.
The city plans to hand out 75 of the new permits to drivers who’ve never held one before, and split the remainder between major cab companies.
The increase will bring the number of taxi permits citywide to a little more than 1,550.
to lead port board
NEW ORLEANS — Joe Toomy was elected Thursday as chairman of the board that oversees operations of the Port of New Orleans.
He succeeds Valerie Cahill, who will continue to serve on the board of commissioners.
The board also elected commissioners Dan Packer as vice chairman and Greg Rusovich as secretary-treasurer.
Toomy was appointed to the board by Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2009.
Cameras, alarms part of Lafayette school plan
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board is looking at a plan to make schools safer.
The proposal the board is considering would include installing cameras and alarm systems in all 42 schools. The plan also calls for six safety officers to add support to resource officers already on many campuses.
If implemented, the proposed safety package will cost almost $2 million dollars.
Lafayette schools to have TB testing
LAFAYETTE — Students and staff at two more Lafayette schools will be tested for tuberculosis next week while health officials continue their investigation of a possible case of the contagious illness at Lafayette High School.
The additional testing will take place at Truman Montessori and Alice Boucher Elementary on Monday and Tuesday.
About 200 students and staff members are already scheduled to be tested those days at Lafayette High, where a possible case of tuberculosis is being investigated.
Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional medical director for the Louisiana Office of Public Health, emphasized that the department is still investigating only one possible case of tuberculosis. Stefanski says the additional testing is related to that case, and there are no more suspected cases at this time.
in Internet scheme
LAFAYETTE — A New Iberia woman is facing federal fraud charges in what prosecutors allege was a scheme that bilked at least 250 victims out of more than $1 million from 2007 through 2010.
The indictment was made public Thursday.
Prosecutors allege that Alice Latula, through her New Iberia business, Triple J’s Marketing, solicited victims across the U.S. for two schemes — one promising a 50 percent rate of return per month in a “Profit Sharing Opportunity” plan and another promising returns of $12,500 for every $30 paid, according to the indictment.
The indictment states that Latula made solicitations in Internet chat rooms, on her company web sites, through word-of-mouth and over the telephone.
Latula is set to be arraigned on the charges on Jan. 15.
From The Associated Press.