Archive for December, 2010

Holiday season swamping as troopers handle 38 accidents

A nearly full day of rain left law enforcers in a nonstop scramble to deal with dozens of crashes.

The Lake Area received 1 to 2 inches of rain throughout the day, with some areas receiving 2 to 3 inches, according to forecaster Mike Marcotte with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.

“This all came about with a strong upper-level disturbance moving across the area,” Marcotte said. “But today (Thursday) looks to be much better.”

The rain started around 11 a.m. Wednesday. While most accidents were minor, some major incidents included a four-car accident, handled by state troopers, that snarled traffic on the Interstate 210 bridge.

Vinton police handled an 18-wheeler that skidded off of Interstate 10 into the median. The truck did not overturn, and there were no injuries.

Sulphur reported two accidents, and Lake Charles had three related to the rain.

Overall, the busiest agency was state police, which dealt with 38 mostly minor accidents.

According to the weather service, there is a 20 percent chance of showers tonight and a low temperature in the 60s.

Heading into the weekend, temperatures will start to drop again. Friday, there is a 50 percent chance of rain with a high near 75 degrees and the low in the high 40s.

December 30, 2010 at 2:28 am

Sulphur traffic stop leads to marijuana discovery

Sulphur Police arrested a Pennsylvania man last week after a traffic stop revealed about 40 pounds of marijuana.

On Dec. 21, narcotics officers stopped 33-year-old Kennard Tucker of Souderton, Penn., on Interstate 10.

After a K-9 alert, officers discovered the marijuana, which had an estimated street value of $34,000.

Tucker was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and passing on the right.

Judge Clayton Davis set his bond at $300,000.

December 29, 2010 at 2:30 am

FBI inspects doctor’s records

The FBI and other officials are looking into the affairs of a local doctor as part of a reported investigation of Medicaid fraud.

FBI Special Agent Sheila Thorne confirmed that agents were at Dr. Lynn Foret’s office with investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.

Thorne gave no specifics on agents’ actions at the office, which is on Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive, and no charges or arrests have been made.

Foret is part of the St. Patrick Hospital Medical Group, which he joined this month. Hospital officials had been made aware of the investigation.

In March, President Barack Obama announced efforts to crack down on waste and fraud in Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs.

The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act gave government agencies extra funds for payment recapture audits, meant to root out improper payments.

December 17, 2010 at 2:33 am

Westlake officials take oaths of office

WESTLAKE — City Council members and the city’s top law enforcer were sworn in Monday.

Councilwoman Lori Peterson was the only member with an opponent on the ballot.

“I think we all (on the council) want to work together to make sure we keep the city moving forward with more infrastructure projects,” Peterson said.

She said she will encourage residents to be more involved in council business and attend more meetings.

Mayor Dan Cupit elaborated on current and future infrastructure projects in the city.

“I’m really proud of our development north of town and the golf course and subdivision, which has about 10 houses in it now,” Cupit said.

He said he is looking forward to a new police station and improvements to John Stine and Myrtle Springs roads.

New Police Chief Mike Dickerson said he plans to expose his officers to more training.

“I think they are welltrained coming in, but I want us to work with other agencies to keep up with new laws, techniques and procedures,” Dickerson said.

“Criminals come up with new stuff all the time, so officers have to constantly train and be ready for them.”

Wally Anderson, John Cradure, Bob Hardey and Dan Racca returned to the council; each was unopposed in the last election.

December 16, 2010 at 2:37 am

La., Texas united against synthetic marijuana sales

In the war on drugs, Texas and Louisiana continue to maintain a united front.

On Wednesday, about 40 officers and prosecutors met in Lake Charles to discuss how to combat the latest issue in their areas: synthetic marijuana.

District Attorney John DeRosier said about 30 stores in Calcasieu Parish sell the products — an herbs-and-spices mixture sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.

“They are marketed as incense, but kids and young adults are smoking it to get high,” DeRosier said.

Louisiana passed legislation in June 2009 that outlawed the five main chemicals used in the substance, but within in a month, companies switched out one or two compounds to circumvent the law, DeRosier said.

“After meeting today, we think we have crafted language that would ban all synthetic cannabinoids that they are coming out with,” he said.

Jefferson County (Texas) Sheriff Mitch Woods said the goal is to get legislation passed in both states around the same time. The Louisiana and Texas legislatures will go into session in April and January.

“This synthetic marijuana came up in the last year or so, and it’s just become a severe problem nationwide,” said Woods, whose jurisdiction includes Beaumont and Port Arthur.

He said there is a lot unknown about the effects on users of the synthetic marijuana, which is packaged under titles like Night Fire, Spice and K2. The herbs are usually sold in one-gram packs for $20 to $40.

“In the last two months, we had a young man whose death was attributed to the synthetic marijuana,” Woods said.

On Aug. 6, Dallas teen Dominique Tate, 19, reportedly died after witnesses said he smoked a large amount of K2.

“He passed out, and they put him to bed. The next day they took him to the hospital, where he died,” Woods said.

DeRosier said Calcasieu deputies have stopped impaired drivers who admitted smoking the synthetic marijuana.

In Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, District Attorney Patricia Lykos said federal intervention may be necessary.

“These drugs are brought in by foreign chemical companies mainly in India and China, and the state department needs to put pressure on them,” she said.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 15 states have tried to control the chemicals. The DEA — in response to the substance’s changing composition — announced it would use its emergency scheduling authority to classify the five chemicals as Schedule I drugs.

This would make possessing and selling the chemicals illegal for at least a year. During that time, the Department of Health and Human Services would look into whether the chemicals should be permanently controlled.

December 9, 2010 at 2:39 am

71-year-old shot by LC police officer in stable condition

A local man was shot and injured by Lake Charles police Monday night, authorities said.

The shooting reportedly happened at about 11:30 p.m. when Cpls. Dwayne Petroski and Michael Nicosia were responding to a concerned citizen call at 1901 Mill St.

“The caller said a man was walking around the apartment complex waving a gun,” said Sgt. Mark Kraus.

Petroski ordered the man, Lincoln Frank, 71, to drop his weapon and shocked him with a Taser when he didn’t comply. Frank then turned the gun toward the officer, and Nicosia shot him in the hip, officials said.

The two officers, along with one other officer and a Calcasieu deputy, tried to handcuff Frank, who also attempted to pull a knife from his front pocket. He was taken to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and is listed in stable condition.

Deputies reportedly tried to place Frank in protective custody earlier in the day by order of Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke.

State police have been asked to investigate the shooting, and Nicosia has been placed on administrative leave, officials said.

Petroski has been with the department seven years, and Nicosia has been with it nine years.

This is the second shooting of a mentally ill person Nicosia has been involved in.

In November 2004, he was placed on administrative leave along with Officers Richard Harrell and Colby Thompson in connection with the shooting death of 48-year-old Edward Ned Jr.

State police conducted the investigation, and none of the officers was indicted.

Ned reportedly tried to attack officers. As the situation escalated, he was given oral commands, and pepper spray and a Taser were used before he was shot.

December 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Radio Portfolio

Apr. 22, 2010 1 p.m. broadcast

March 19, 2010 noon broadcast

Feb. 18, 2010 2 p.m. broadcast

Feb. 12, 2010 1 p.m. broadcast

Feb. 9, 2010 1 p.m. broadcast

December 5, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Lighting a candle for those with AIDS

On World AIDS Day, the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council united with the United Methodist Conference to honor those who have died of AIDS and to celebrate victories in medicine and awareness.

Those who attended the Wednesday event lit candles for deceased loved ones, and Sherry Jones Miller of Sulphur talked about her brother, Jason Wilson, who died at age 33.

Miller said she had been close to her brother, who was 14 years younger than her.

“This helped when we lost our mom to lung cancer,” Miller said. At that time, she was 23 and Jason was 9.

Miller first noticed symptoms in her brother and encouraged him to get tested. The mother of three said her brother was always the fun uncle, and he loved playing with her children.

This had some drawbacks, Miller said.

“I got used to some parents not letting their children come play at my house or asking what kind of mother would let their children be around someone with HIV,” Miller said. “I had to accept that some people chose not be educated about the disease.”

Marlon Borque spoke about living with HIV for the past 23 years.

Borque said losing his mother to liver and lung cancer and then being diagnosed with liver disease led to a reckless lifestyle. During that time, he contracted HIV.

“That diagnosis was a turning point in my life. I had a choice — to maintain my crazy habits or make a change,” he said.

Borque said his job as a social worker was his assignment from God and that he should share his message of hope with others.

“Choice is a very important word to me. You choose how you react to things, and I hope that I can give a message of hope,” he said.

The Rev. Juan Huertas of Squyres United Methodist Church in Ragley spoke about the church’s role in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Our response too many times is closed doors, good-intentioned prayers, and we hope people get well some other way, and that’s not what Jesus called us to do,” he said.

Huertas said he hopes other churches will be more open to allowing clinics and community organizations to speak to their congregations.

“Holiness is not just pious practice, it’s being in active service of the hurt and lost,” he said.

As of Sept. 31, Region 5 — Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes — had 51 new cases of HIV and 42 new cases of AIDS, according to the state Office of Public Health.

Of the new HIV cases, 39 are male and 12 are female. Of the 42 newly diagnosed with AIDS, 29 are male and 13 are female. There are 962 people living with HIV or AIDS in the region, according to the OPH.

December 2, 2010 at 2:48 am