State News in Brief

Remains of couple killed in Belgium returned to Lexington

LEXINGTON (AP) — The remains of a couple with Kentucky and Tennessee ties who were killed in terrorist attacks in Belgium last month have been returned to Lexington.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the remains of 29-year-old Stephanie Shults and 30-year-old Justin Shults arrived in Lexington late Sunday from a military base in Dover, Delaware. The funeral is planned Friday in Lexington.

Stephanie Shults was a graduate of Bryan Station High School and Transylvania University and worked for a division of Mars in Brussels. Justin Shults was from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and worked for Clarcor in Brussels. They met at Vanderbilt University while working on their master’s degrees.

They were at the airport to say goodbye to Stephanie Shults’ mother, Carolyn Moore of Lexington, who had been visiting. Moore suffered minor injuries.


Disability lawyer Eric Conn arrested on federal charges

PIKEVILLE (AP) — An eastern Kentucky disability lawyer who years ago had been accused by a Congressional committee of committing fraud has been arrested on federal charges.

WSAZ-TV reports that Eric Conn was jailed Monday night in the Pike County Detention Center and is being held for U.S. Marshals. Conn is facing numerous charges, including conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

In 2013, a Senate committee staff found that Conn and a judge had colluded to approve hundreds of clients for disability benefits using manufactured medical evidence from physicians.

The 54-year-old attorney has denied the allegations and had never been charged.

In May 2015, the Social Security Administration abruptly suspended disability payments to 900 of his clients, prompting multiple lawsuits to be filed against the agency.


4 Ky. men accused of skimming operation in North Dakota

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Four Kentucky men are accused of running a credit card skimming operation in North Dakota’s largest city.

The men from Louisville were arrested at a hotel in Fargo late last week. They all face a felony criminal conspiracy charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. One also is accused of possessing cocaine, a felony punishable by up to five years behind bars.

Skimming devices are used to illegally obtain private account information when people use credit or debit cards to make payments. Thieves often put them on gas pumps. Fargo police said they found two skimming devices, laptops and several gift cards encoded with the help of victims’ credit card information in the suspects’ hotel room.

Police don’t know how many victims there are in the Fargo area, but nearly 20 people have come forward so far. Authorities also say the suspects could be involved in a multi-state skimming operation under investigation by federal authorities.

“Just because we made these four arrests doesn’t mean that this illegal activity is going to stop,” Lt. Joe Anderson told KVRR-TV.

Charged with criminal conspiracy are Yunior Quesada, 30, Taylon Garcia, 30, Yoel Perez, 29, and Yordan Castillo, 27. Castillo also faces the drug charge. The men could enter pleas at hearings scheduled in late April and early May.

Castillo’s attorney declined comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Attorneys for the other suspects did not immediately respond to AP requests for comment.


No movement on Ky. budget as legislative deadline nears

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have not made progress on a two-year state-spending plan.

House and Senate leaders did not officially meet Monday after failing to reach an agreement last week. The state legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year April 12. If lawmakers do not approve a budget by then, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin would have to call a special session in order to have a spending plan in place when the fiscal year begins on July 1.

If the legislature does not pass a budget by June 30, parts of state government would shut down. Federally mandated programs such as Medicaid and K-12 education would continue.

Senate Republicans have called for cuts to higher education in order to help the state’s public pension debt. House Democrats have refused any cuts to education.


Exam ordered for Minn. woman accused of killing father

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — A judge has ordered a mental competency exam for a central Minnesota woman accused of killing her father and escaping to Kentucky.

Stearns County Judge Kris Davick-Halfen ordered the evaluation Monday for 38-year-old Lisa Kearney of St. Cloud. Kearney is charged with second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 66-year-old Jeffrey Schilling. His body was found Jan. 4 inside the home he shared with Kearney.

Kearney was ordered held on $1 million bail. The St. Cloud Times ( ) reports the criminal proceedings will be halted until the exam is completed.

A criminal complaint says Schilling died of head injuries, apparently inflicted with an ax-like tool found nearby.

Kearney was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 6 and later returned to Minnesota. Prosecutors are considering seeking a first-degree murder indictment.


4 candidates seek seats without major party affiliation

FRANKFORT (AP) — Four candidates have filed for seats in the state legislature that are not affiliated with either of the two major political parties.

The filing deadline for Republican and Democratic candidates was in January. Anyone running for as an independent or third party candidate had to file by April 1. The election is Nov. 8.

Leah King filed as an independent for the Senate seat in Boone County held by Republican John Schickel. Adam N. Duke filed as an independent for the Senate seat in Kenton County held by Republican Chris McDaniel. David Watson filed as a Libertarian for the House seat in Lyon, Marshall and McCracken counties held by Democrat Will Coursey. And Randy Gip Graham filed as an independent for the House district in Boyle and Casey counties held by Republican Daniel Elliott.

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