$2 million to hospital
HOUMA The Terrebonne Parish Council has voted to give $2 million to the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center.
The funding, discussed for weeks, is part of a deal aimed at preventing layoffs and program cuts at the hospital.
The Lafourche Parish Council approved a $1 million contribution last week.
The state is working with Ochsner Health Systems and Terrebonne General Medical Center on a partnership aimed at keeping the hospital running in the longer term.
booked in pot bust
ALEXANDRIA — A 19-year-old Alexandria man was arrested after Rapides Parish deputies say they found him in possession of two pounds of marijuana.
Dontavious Henderson, 19, was booked with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a school zone.
Rapides detectives say Henderson was seen selling drugs on the street, and was followed to a storage building where the marijuana was found.
It was unclear whether Henderson has an attorney.
Lafayette cardiologist serving fraud sentence
LAFAYETTE — U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says former Lafayette cardiologist Mehmood Patel has begun serving his maximum 10-year sentence for Medicaid fraud.
Finley said Thursday that the 67-year-old Patel turned himself in on Monday to federal marshals in Lafayette.
Patel was convicted in 2009 on 51 counts of health care fraud. Experts said he used radiation, stents and balloons in healthy arteries, lying to patients and falsifying records.
Finley says Patel billed Medicare and private insurance companies more than $3 million over three years, including nearly $542,000 for unnecessary work. She says the indictment covered less than $90,000 of that.
Leesville man sentenced for wildlife trafficking
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A Leesville man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and illegally trafficking in wildlife has been sentenced to five years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik also on Monday sentenced 36-year-old Emerson Austin to 10 years of supervised release after his prison term.
Federal prosecutors say investigators were searching Austin’s home in 2009 for evidence related to his possession of eagle feathers when they found child pornography on his computer.
They also seized feathers from 15 different migratory birds. Prosecutors say Austin sold the feathers over the Internet.
12 dredgers getting up
to $500M in Corps work
NEW ORLEANS — Twelve companies from eight states have contracts for a total of up to $500 million in dredging for the Army Corps of Engineers. A Defense Department news release says they’ll dredge throughout the South Atlantic Division through Dec. 21, 2013.
Two Louisiana companies are Weeks Marine Inc. of Covington and Mike Hooks Inc. of Westlake.
Others include Cottrell Contracting Corp. and Norfolk Dredging Co., both of Chesapeake, Va.; Marinex Construction Inc., and Southern Dredging Co., Inc., both of Charleston, S.C.; and, in Florida, Orion Marine Construction Inc., of Tampa, and Cavache Inc., of Fort Lauderdale.
The rest are Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting Co. LLC, Quincy, Mass.; Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. LLC, Oak Brook, Ill.; Dutra Dredging Co., San Rafael, Calif.; and Manson Construction Co., Seattle, Wash.
Man faces child porn charge
ALEXANDRIA — A 50-year-old Ball man is facing a charge of possession child pornography after being arrested by agents with the Louisiana Attorney General’s High Technology Crime Unit and the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a news release that Billie McCann, Jr. was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center Wednesday.
Caldwell says officials found evidence of child pornography on his computer during a search of his home.
If convicted, McCann could face up to 20 years in prison.
Teacher charged with having sex with student
ALEXANDRIA — Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputies say a 27-year-old Tioga High School teacher has been arrested for having a sexual relationship with a student at the school.
Heather Michelle Cooksey, of Pineville, was booked Wednesday into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
2 brothers arrested
in Craigslist scam
GONZALES — Two Donaldsonville brothers have been arrested after allegedly using a Craigslist ad to lure a man to Gonzales and rob him.
Gonzales police Sgt. Steven Nethken said a Baton Rouge man and his two young children responded to a Craigslist ad to purchase two cellphones.
Nethken said the victim when to a Gonzales apartment complex and was approached by a man wearing a hoodie and a cloth over his face. He said the man pointed a gun in the victim’s face and demanded money.
Nethken said Zegory Christopher Bell and Donavan Bell were booked into Ascension Parish Prison with armed robbery. Zegory Bell also was booked with illegal use of weapons.
approves water restriction
LAFAYETTE — A yearlong legal battle over Lafayette’s contract to provide water to the neighboring city of Broussard escalated this week.
The Lafayette Public Utilities Authority voted on Tuesday to authorize the administration to deny all requests for additional water service from Broussard.
Broussard officials said Thursday they plan to respond with a legal claim against Lafayette for intentional breach of the contract for Lafayette to provide water service to the smaller city.
Broussard spokeswoman Amy Jones said Lafayette has officially declared that it does not intend to honor its obligations under the 1998 wholesale water agreement.
The dispute over the water contract began last year when the city-owned Lafayette Utilities System discovered that a wholesale water meter had been bypassed for several years.
Cameras coming to school buses
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has agreed to add cameras to 50 buses at a time until they are on all 650 of the school system’s buses.
Currently, there are 30 school buses with cameras.
The board voted Thursday 10-0 to expand the camera program.
The cameras are largely meant to catch motorists who speed past when a bus stops to pick up or drop off children, but also are being used to monitor student behavior and driver performance.
The traffic cameras are being supplied and installed by a Harahan-based company called Force Multiplier Solutions. The company has more than 2,000 bus cameras in operation, most of them in Dallas and Jefferson Parish.
High today 57. Low tonight 33 and clear. High Saturday 63 with northeast winds at 5 mph becoming southeasterly in the afternoon.
Pedestrian killed in Livingston Parish
DENHAM SPRINGS — A pedestrian has been killed in a Livingston Parish traffic accident.
State police say it happened Wednesday at about 7:15 p.m.
A driver was heading west on Louisiana Highway 16 as 69-year-old John L. Barker of Denham Springs was attempting to cross the roadway. Barker stepped into the vehicle’s path. State police said the driver was unable to avoid hitting Barker.
No charges were filed. Toxicology tests were pending on Barker.
1 killed, 3 hurt
in head-on crash
AMITE — A Ponchatoula woman died in a head-on collision west of Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, state police say.
Trooper Nicholas Manale said that Carly Cutrer, 25, was traveling west on Louisiana Highway 16 about a mile west of Interstate 55 around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, when her car drifted across the center line into the oncoming lane of travel and struck an SUV.
The Tangipahoa Parish coroner’s office pronounced her dead at the scene, Manale said.
The driver of the SUV, 38-year-old Sean Zimmerman of Roxie, Miss., received minor injuries in the crash, Manale said. Two additional occupants in Zimmerman’s vehicle, 63-year-old Anita Zimmerman and 66-year-old Steve Zimmerman, were taken to North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond with minor injuries.
died in crash
LACOMBE — Louisiana State Police say two North Carolina residents died and a third was injured in an 18-wheeler crash in St. Tammany Parish, north of New Orleans.
The dead were the driver of the truck, Ronald Phelps, 25, of Whitsett, N.C., and a passenger, Tiffany Payne, 21, of White Oak, N.C.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene by the parish coroner’s office.
Another passenger, David Sarty, 25, of Hope Mills, N.C., was taken to a New Orleans hospital with serious injuries.
The tractor-trailer rig crashed Wednesday morning on Interstate 12 near Lacombe. It ran off the highway, struck trees and caught fire, authorities said. Passing motorists rescued Sarty but couldn’t reach Phelps and Payne, state police say.
Nasdaq pulling Globalstar shares
COVINGTON — The price of Globalstar stock has fallen below $1, leading the Nasdaq exchange to pull the company off its listings effective Friday.
The Covington satellite communications company was put on delisting notice in September when its share price failed to meet Nasdaq’s minimum bid amount.
According to a Globalstar statement, the company sought an extension of its compliance period, which Nasdaq declined. Starting Friday, its shares will be traded on the over-the-counter market.
The delisting comes after a year of challenges for Globalstar. The launch of a new generation of satellites to upgrade its communications system ran into delays after a dispute with a vendor.
Globalstar is also pursuing a new line of business. In November, it asked for the Federal Communications Commission’s permission to enter the Internet access provider market for mobile devices. The venture probably would involve the company partnering with a large mobile provider or selling its spectrum license.
In its most recent financial report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Globalstar reported a $41 million loss in the third quarter. The period’s results were tied to revenue delays associated with the satellite launch difficulties. Improved equipment and service revenue led to $15 million in gross earnings for the period, 13 percent higher than the comparable quarter in 2011.
of writing extra payroll checks
WEST MONROE — Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies say a West Monroe woman has been arrested on felony theft charges and is accused of writing duplicate payroll checks for herself.
Johnnie Denise Hodge is accused of writing and cashing checks from her employer totaling $1,365.
Hodge was booked at the Ouachita Parish jail. It was unclear whether Hodge has an attorney.
of mentoring teen prostitute
NEW ORLEANS — A 25-year-old Metairie woman has been arrested and accused of teaching a minor how to be a Bourbon Street prostitute.
Emilie “Bunny” Cook was booked at the New Orleans jail on a charge of trafficking of children for sex purposes.
State Police say Cook arranged prostitution work for herself and a 16-year-old girl in November in the 300 block of Bourbon, a tourist-heavy area of the French Quarter.
Investigators said Cook negotiated a sex deal for herself and the minor with an undercover New Orleans police officer. The officer agreed to pay the women $500, investigators said.
The minor told police she had run away from home in Jackson, Miss.
The arrest report says Cook told investigators she drove the teen to the French Quarter and “intentionally taught (her) how to ‘work’ the track for personal monetary gain.”
Investigators said Cook dressed the girl in provocative clothing and took photographs later posted on an escort website. The girl told police two unidentified men gave her a cellphone for accepting calls from customers.
The girl was turned over to the New Orleans police juvenile division and was booked for prostitution, curfew violation and being a runaway, authorities said.
Reward offered in death of Hammond businesswoman
HAMMOND — The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office is offering a $2,500 reward for information about the death last month of Hammond businesswoman Mary Alvarez.
Sheriff Daniel Edwards says in a news release Wednesday that details remain unclear a month after the shooting.
Alvarez was shot once in the head.
Edwards has said that the victim’s husband, Vic Alvarez, called 911 on Nov. 14, saying he had returned to their plant nursery to find his wife on the floor, unresponsive and bleeding.
Edwards asks anyone with information to call Detective Dale Athmann at 985-634-9181.
Gun found in school trash
BATON ROUGE — The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office says a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old were arrested after a Park Forest Middle School student reported that another student had a gun, and administrators found a loaded .40-caliber handgun in an outdoor trash can.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks says the incident occurred after school but on school property. She says both teens were booked with possessing a stolen gun and illegally carrying a weapon on school property.
From The Associated Press.
She did not give their genders.
She says the handgun was in a book bag in the trash can.
Hicks says investigators believe the gun was stolen last year from a house in Tangipahoa Parish.
She says the investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible.
From The Associated Press.