News in Brief


Doctor found guilty of Medicaid fraud

SOMERSET (AP) — A jury in Pulaski County has found a physician guilty of receiving payment from Kentucky’s Medicaid program for tobacco cessation counseling that he did not perform.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says in a news release that the circuit court jury found 58-year-old Dr. Ezekiel Akande of Somerset guilty last week of Medicaid fraud and theft by unlawful taking over $10,000. Both charges are felonies.

Akande operated Somerset Regional Pain Center. The attorney general’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse handled Akande’s prosecution. It alleged he billed Medicaid for counseling when the patient was a nonsmoker or a smoker who did not desire to quit smoking.

Akande faces up to five years in prison. Sentencing has been set for April 21.

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Ky. firefighters help battle blazes in Oklahoma

LEXINGTON (AP) — Forestry officials say a dozen firefighters from Kentucky are in Oklahoma to help battle wildfires there.

WKYT-TV reports that while Kentucky is experiencing a below average number of fires so far, some of its firefighters are staying busy.

Chad Brothers, a firefighter from Marion, says his team brought two bulldozers and three engines to help with the Selman fire in Woodward, Oklahoma. Wildfires there have destroyed nearly 50,000 acres.

Brothers and his team arrived in Oklahoma on Friday morning. They’re expecting to stay for a couple of weeks.

Brothers said a lot of homes have been lost, equipment has burned and livestock has been killed.

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Bevin appoints Georgetown circuit judge to appeals court

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed a Georgetown circuit court judge to the state Court of Appeals.

Bevin appointed Robert G. Johnson to a vacancy in the 5th Appellate District, Division 1. Johnson will serve the remainder of the term. The seat will be on the ballot for the November 2018 elections.

Johnson earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown College and a law degree from the University of Kentucky. He is married to Scott County Clerk Rebecca M. Johnson and has five children.

The appellate district includes Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Scott and Woodford counties.

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State police: Couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — Authorities say a couple has been found dead in an apparent murder-suicide at a home near Bowling Green.

Kentucky State Police say in a statement that officers arriving to the home early Sunday heard gunshots coming from inside.

They then found 33-year-old Tabitha L. Neighbors with a gunshot wound in a bedroom and 38-year-old Joseph A. Neighbors with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bathroom.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies are scheduled.

WAVE-TV reports that police say four children, all under 13 years old, were inside the home at the time. They weren’t hurt and are now staying with family members.

State police spokesman Trooper B.J. Eaton says it was not immediately clear whether alcohol and drugs were involved.

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Colorado strip club operator accused of exploiting dancers

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado company that owns over a dozen strip clubs around the country is facing a federal lawsuit over allegations that it exploited its dancers by requiring them to pay fees in order to work.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Denver, alleges that the clubs, including PT’s Showclubs in Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Maine, charged the workers fees based on the time of day they worked, which were sometimes doubled for special events, and also took portions of their tips to pay bouncers and DJs. The lawsuit also claims that dancers had to pay a fee to DJs for every dance they performed, were required to pay for valet parking and also had to pay $6 for bottles of water if they needed a drink.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Georgina Santich, who worked at PT’s Showclub in Denver for nine years, but her lawyers are also seeking compensation for potentially hundreds of other women who work in the clubs owned by the Lakewood, Colorado company, VCG Holding Corp. It declined to comment.

Several other lawsuits making similar claims have been filed against strip clubs in recent years. Many allege that clubs wrongly categorized dancers as contract workers rather than employees entitled to at least earn minimum wage.

Last month, a former dancer at a Wisconsin strip club that bills itself as the largest adult entertainment center in the Midwest filed a federal lawsuit alleging that managers required dancers to share so much of their tips that they did not earn minimum wage or overtime.

In 2015, Rick’s Cabaret in New York, which was accused of requiring dancers to return some of their tips, settled a class action lawsuit for $15 million.

One of Santich’s lawyers, Mari Newman, said many strip clubs continue to operate by charging fees and extracting tips despite the flurry of lawsuits.

“My hope is that the tide is turning,” said Newman.

She previously sued an unrelated, independently owned strip club in Grand Junction, Colorado on behalf of dancers which resulted in a settlement.

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2 tornadoes strike in far western Ky. damage reported

HICKMAN (AP) — The National Weather Service says two tornadoes apparently hit far western Kentucky, where transportation officials say roads will reopen overnight.

Meteorologist Jim Packett in Paducah says officials surveyed damage in Fulton County on Friday. The preliminary findings are that the area had an EF-1 tornado and an EF-2 tornado with winds up to 125 mph, as well as straight line winds Thursday night.

Weather officials will return Saturday to continue surveying damage to the northwest and into Tennessee.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said most state highways were closed during the day in Hickman, where the storm brought down power lines and utility poles. Work will continue Saturday.

The Kentucky Department of Corrections said in a statement Friday that the Fulton County Detention Center sustained roof damage and reported that 80 inmates were temporarily relocated to neighboring correctional facilities. No injuries were reported.

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Olive Hill getting grant to fix city water issues

OLIVE HILL (AP) — The city of Olive Hill in northeastern Kentucky has been approved for a $243,000 grant to fix its aging water system that is losing about half its capacity.

The grant is coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The city’s cast iron water line dates back to the 1960s. According to a release from the state’s Department for Local Government, two surveys found that the lines are losing about 45 to 50 percent of the water that flows through it due to corroded piping.

The new project will replace about 7,400 feet of old water line with PVC piping and install new fire hydrants. Officials say the water pressure in the city will be greatly improved.

The commission’s program provides assistance for residential infrastructure projects, water supply and wastewater treatment projects.

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Nominations sought for historic preservation awards

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Heritage Council is seeking nominations for historic preservation awards.

Officials said in a press release that an awards ceremony will be held in May to recognize excellence in the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and cultural sites. Nominations must be received by April 12.

Awards are presented for exceptional projects, outstanding service contributions to historic preservation and to an individual dedicated to historic preservation.

The Heritage County has more information about the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards and nomination forms on its website at www.heritage.ky.gov .

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