in inmate sex case
VIDALIA — A Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office correctional officer has been arrested and charged with malfeasance for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with an inmate.
The 48-year-old woman was arrested Wednesday. Telephone calls intercepted during a routine check of phone systems led to the allegations.
Chief Deputy David Hedrick said Karen Watts of Vidalia worked at the Concordia Parish Work Release facility on U.S. 84 where she supervised a crew of work release inmates. No bond had been set for Watts as of early Thursday.
Conviction on malfeasance can result in five to 10 years in prison. Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick said an investigation is continuing. He said the inmate may also be charged and could have time added to his sentence.
in heroin case
NEW ORLEANS — A concerned citizen’s tip about drug activity led police to an eastern New Orleans apartment complex and resulted in the arrests of two people accused of distributing heroin.
Police say 26-year-old Roland Mason, and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Liza Glover, were booked Wednesday with possession with intent to distribute 200 to 400 grams of heroin. They also were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Detectives with a search warrant entered their apartment about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and confiscated the drugs, which have an estimated street value of $100,000. Authorities also confiscated a digital scale, plastic bags and an unspecified amount of cash.
Larose Lift Bridge to open Friday
LAROSE — State transportation officials say the Larose Lift Bridge will open Friday after months of construction delays.
A ceremony at the new, six-lane bridge will mark the 3 p.m. opening.
The bridge will provide a more efficient route for oil-and-gas industry trucks heading to and from Port Fourchon, according to Henri Boulet, director of the La. 1 Coalition.
The work began on the $30 million project in July 2010. It is being paid for through federal stimulus money.
Unclaimed Powerball prize to expire April 4
BATON ROUGE — A $10,000 Powerball prize won in the Oct. 6 drawing remains unclaimed.
Louisiana Lottery officials said Wednesday the ticket was purchased at Kajan Mart 2 on Veterans Drive in Carencro and is set to expire April 4 at 5 p.m.
Winners must claim their prize within 180 days of a drawing. After that, the winnings are deposited into the lottery’s unclaimed prize fund, which goes to players in the form of increased payouts on scratch-off games and player promotions.
The ticket matched four of the five numbers drawn and the Powerball number. The numbers were: 15, 26, 34, 36, 59 and Powerball 35.
Prizes greater than $600 may be claimed at any of the lottery’s five regional offices located throughout the state or at the lottery headquarters in Baton Rouge.
Man pleads guilty to stealing brother’s identity
LAFAYETTE — A 41-year-old St. Martinville man has pleaded guilty to stealing his brother’s identity in order to launder thousands of dollars.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley said Wednesday that Nasar Latif Raja entered the plea Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Michael Hill.
Authorities questioned Raja in January 2012 during an investigation of synthetic marijuana sales at his brother’s convenience store in St. Martinville. Finley says Raja used his brother’s name and told authorities he was the owner of the store. Authorities later searched the store and found that Raja had a checking account and safety deposit box listed under his brother’s name. The safety deposit box contained $219,000.
Raja faces 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Jindal sidesteps questions about sinkhole visit
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal has dodged questions about whether he’ll visit the site of a massive sinkhole that has swallowed nine acres of land in swampy Assumption Parish.
Residents displaced since August have criticized the governor for having never traveled to see the sinkhole or speak with the families.
Asked Wednesday if he’ll go the site, Jindal said he gets constant updates from state agencies overseeing response efforts. He pledged to hold Houston-based Texas Brine accountable for the damage and to make sure people are compensated for their losses.
But the governor wouldn’t directly answer repeated questions about checking out the sinkhole in person.
Scientists say the sinkhole formed after the failure of an underground salt cavern operated by Texas Brine, which extracted brine and piped it to nearby petrochemical facilities.
Fire danger high
in southwest La.
LAKE CHARLES — Dry weather in southwest Louisiana is increasing the danger of wildfires, state agriculture officials say.
Calcasieu, Vernon, Allen, Jeff Davis and Acadia parishes are classes as in “very high” danger. A “medium” danger exists in Beauregard Parish, authorities say.
Conditions favor quick spreading of any fire that starts, authorities say.
Grant will help rebuild fish lab
GRAND CHENIER — Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge has been given a $1 million in federal recovery grant to build a fish lab complex to replace facilities destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005.
The money, received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will go toward the total $3.7 million cost of the 5,460-square-foot lab.
Refuge program manager Tom Hess said the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also will fund the project. Construction could begin in 2014.
Six of the destroyed buildings — including the fish lab, boat shed, chemical storage building and alligator incubator and storage shed — will be consolidated into three new buildings.
Hess said research done at the biological complex, which was built in the 1970s, has helped save once-endangered species such as alligators.
“This year, we had over 35,000 wild alligators harvested in the state, and that all started here,” he said. “We have students from all over the world to do research on wetlands ecology.”
The refuge’s biological complex is state-owned
Other projects under way at the refuge include more than $2 million to build four residence buildings for biologists and renovation of an office building. Hess said the Joseph Harbor boat launch was recently renovated with $2.4 million in state money.
The Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge has more than 76,000 acres in Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
From The Associated Press.