Wednesday, April 22, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court sides with Kansas in natural gas price-fixing case

TOPEKA, KAN. – The U.S. Supreme Court today sided with Kansas and decided states may continue to enforce antitrust laws to protect consumers from retail price fixing in the natural gas market, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced. In doing so, the court, in a 7-2 decision, rejected the federal government's assertion that federal law preempts state enforcement.

“This is a major victory for Kansas consumers and all purchasers of natural gas,” Schmidt said. “The Supreme Court has sided with our view that those who illegally fix the price of natural gas cannot hide behind federal law to avoid state liability.”

The underlying lawsuit involved accusations by the plaintiffs, which included both Kansas-based Learjet, Inc., and Topeka Unified School District No. 501, that the defendants illegally drove up the retail price of natural gas, costing gas purchasers millions of dollars.

Similar cases from around the country were consolidated into multi-district litigation in Nevada, and the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals eventually allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their state-law claims.

The defendants, backed by the federal government, asked the Supreme Court to reject the lawsuit by concluding that federal law preempts state laws that combat price-fixing in the natural gas retail market when the challenged industry practices also affect the wholesale gas market.

In November 2014, Schmidt led a bipartisan group of 21 state attorneys general in filing an amicus curiae brief asking the Supreme Court to allow continued enforcement of state anti-price fixing laws against retail sellers of natural gas who illegally rig prices.

The federal government, which was opposite Kansas in this lawsuit, argued that state antitrust laws are preempted by the federal Natural Gas Act. The defendants and the Obama Administration argued the preemption extends to the retail market when the challenged practice is engaged in by a federally regulated seller and affects a federally regulated wholesale rate.

Oral arguments in the case, ONEOK, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., were heard in January. Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister argued on behalf of Kansas and the amici states when the case was heard in January at the Court.

Emerald Ash Borer traps set across Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture plan to set 163 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) traps across the state to help prevent the spread of EAB and detect unknown populations.

An invasive insect that attacks and kills species of North American ash trees, EAB typically emerges during June and July. By setting EAB traps across Kansas, KDA is working to eliminate damage to the state’s ash tree population.

EAB greatly impacts the U.S economy making it imperative to be controlled. From the time EAB was first discovered in North America, the economic loss is estimated to be between $20 to $60 billion.

Newly infested trees often have no external symptoms, therefore, the pest can be incredibly challenging to identify. By EAB trapping, new populations of the borer can be identified and managed.

A majority of the EAB traps set by KDA are purple prism traps. This is a three-sided sticky prism designed to attract EAB. Other traps include Lindgren funnel traps coated with Fluon.

The EAB traps pose no harm to humans, pets or wildlife, but they can be messy if touched. It is recommended that no contact is made with the EAB traps.  Kansans are encouraged to report downed traps to the Kansas Department of Agriculture at (785) 564-6698.

It is priority of KDA to protect natural resources, promote public health and safety, protect animal health and provide consumer protection to the best of its ability.

EAB trapping will occur in Atchison, Barton, Bourbon, Butler, Cherokee, Crawford, Doniphan, Douglas, Graham, Harvey, Jefferson, Labette, Linn, Neosho, Pawnee, Reno, Rooks, Riley, Russell, Shawnee, Sheridan, Sherman and Trego counties.  Trapping will take place between the months of April and August.

T-Bones sign KC native, son of former Royals pitcher

Tbonesbaseball.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The Kansas City T-Bones announced they have signed rookie James Boddicker to a contract for the 2015 season.

Boddicker, 23 (4-8-92), is a 5-foot-11 and 190-pound infielder from Overland Park, Kan. Playing collegiately at Tennessee Wesleyan last season, Boddicker batted .350 with a .493 slugging percentage in 58 games. He led the Bulldogs in hits (71), doubles (18) and total bases (100).

“I know our manager John Massarelli, coach Bill Sobbe and the rest of the staff wants to take a look at James because he’s a young guy who can hit, play several positions and plays the game the right way,” said T-Bones vice-president and general manager Chris Browne. “Plus he’s a Kansas City kid who has a great background in and around the game.”

Boddicker, who went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in the Kansas City area, is the son of long-time major-league pitcher Mike Boddicker, who played for the Royals during 1991 and ‘92.

The T-Bones open the 2015 regular season at home on May 22 against Lincoln.

Federal Indictment Alleges Former Southwest Kansas Banker Conspired in Money Laundering

TOPEKA, KAN. – The former president of a bank in Plains, Kan., has been indicted along with two customers of the bank on federal money laundering charges, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Two former bank employees also are charged in the case.

The Kansas case is part of a larger investigation that has resulted in more than 20 indictments with defendants in Indianapolis, Ind.; Seminole, Texas; Boston, Mass.; El Paso, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Denver, Colo.; and Mexico. The investigation in Kansas resulted in the seizure of more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana and more than $2 million in cash.

An indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court alleges a couple from Meade funneled drug proceeds through their account at Plains State Bank while the former banker failed to report on the suspicious activity, even as millions of dollars flowed through the couple’s account. The bank is located at 411 Grand Ave. in Plains, Kan.

In a 37-count indictment, the following defendants are charged:

George Enns, 69, and his wife, Agatha Enns, 67, both of Meade, Kan., co-owners of Southwest Windmill and Waterwell, Inc.: one count of money laundering conspiracy, 34 counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering.

James Kirk Friend, 52, Plains, Kan., who was appointed President of Plains State Bank in 2005, and replaced as president in 2013 when he was made senior vice president: one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report and 29 counts of money laundering.

Matthew Thomas, 37, Plains, Kan., loan officer and officer of Plains State Bank until he left in 2014: one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report.

Kathey F. Shellman, 57, Plains, Kan., a cashier and IT officer at Plains State Bank until she left in 2014: one count of failing to file a Suspicious Activity Report.

The indictment alleges that:

  • From 2011 to August 2014 deposits to the Enns’ account were more than $6.8 million, including more than $1.6 million in cash.
  • The Enns also had an account at a Bank of America branch in El Paso, Texas. From 2011 to August 2014, more than $900,000 was transferred from the Enns’ account at Bank of America to their account at Plains State Bank.
  • The activity in the Enns’ two accounts was not produced by Southwest Windmill and Waterwell, Inc. The monies flowing through these accounts was not reported to the Enns’ accountant or reported on their tax returns.
  • From Jan. 11, 2012, to Aug. 12, 2014, the Enns crossed the U.S. border to and from Mexico at least 25 times. On at least four occasions they were stopped by customs officials and found to be in possession of large amounts of cash. For instance, on July 26, 2013, they were stopped at the Columbus, N.M., port of entry carrying $317,500 in a black trash bag.
  • Defendant George Enns told law enforcement officers that the U.S. currency was to be used to buy seeds for his seed business in Mexico.
  • Defendant Friend knew the Enns were bringing bulk currency from Mexico to the United States.
  • Bank officials did not require the Enns to provide proof that any of the currency transported from the United States was declared at the border and did not look into the source of the currency. They did not fill a SAR report on any transactions conducted on the Enns’ account.
Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Failing to file a report: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $500,000 on each count.
The following agencies investigated: The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

Monday, April 20, 2015

KANSAS CITY METRO TRAFFIC ALERT: I-35 Pavement Reconstruction Project for April-December 2015 in Johnson County


OLATHE, KAN. ---- The project work for this weekend, April 18-19, has been rescheduled to now take place on Monday, April 20 due to rainy weather this weekend. The lane and ramp closures are as follows:

At 4:00 a.m. on Monday, April 20, one lane of southbound I-35 will be shifted to the northbound side of the highway, then at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 20, the second lane of southbound I-35 will be shifted to the northbound side of the highway.

All I-35 traffic will be carried on the existing northbound lanes separated by concrete barrier while the southbound lanes are reconstructed.

Once the mainline traffic has been switched at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 20, the Santa Fe Street/135th Street to southbound I-35 entrance ramp and the southbound I-35 to Old U.S. 56 exit ramp will be CLOSED to all traffic. Marked detours will be provided for the ramp closures.

Updated daily traffic information for this project and for the entire Kansas City Metro Area can be viewed at: www.ksdot.org/kcmetro/laneclose.asp.

KANSAS CITY METRO TRAFFIC ALERT: Multiple bridge improvements set to get underway on Interstate 29

KANSAS CITY, MO. – Due to a delay in materials being delivered, the multiple bridge improvements on I-29 will begin Tuesday, April 21 instead of the original date of Monday, April 20.

Crews will close the right lane on northbound I-29 between Route 45 to Barry Rd. 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 21.

Motorists should prepare for delays as crews work to rehabilitate 12 bridges along the I-29 corridor between I-435 and I-635 beginning Tuesday, April 21 and continuing for 6 months.

Work will cause lane reductions, narrow lanes, and ramp closures.

Motorists should use alternate routes such as I-435 and US 169. The following impacts will be underway;
  • Two lanes of I-29 will be maintained in each direction between 112th Street and Route 45 (64th Street).
  • I-29 will be reduced to one lane at the KCI Airport entrance at exit 13 (Route D (Cookingham Drive) for each direction for 80 calendar days.
  • The ramp from eastbound Route 152 to southbound I-29 will be closed for the duration of the project.
  • I-29 lanes will be narrowed at the bridge locations.
  • Temporary lane closures may be encountered on Route D (Cookingham Drive), 112th Street, Tiffany Springs Parkway, Barry Road, 72nd Street, and Route 45 (64th Street) during off peak hours.
Motorists who are utilizing Kansas City International Airport (KCI) should make the appropriate adjustments to meet departure and arrival times. All work is weather dependent.

For more information about other MoDOT projects, please visit MoDOT’s website at www.modot.mo.gov/kansascity. For instant updates, follow MoDOT_KC on Twitter or send questions and comments to kccustomerrelations@modot.mo.gov. We want your feedback on our work zones! Rate Our Work Zones at www.modot.org/kansascity

Thursday, April 16, 2015

KCK man charged with unlawful possession of a firearm

U.S. Department of Justice

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Carlos Byron, 59, Kansas City, Kan., is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm following a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred March 30, 2015 in Kansas City, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Kansas City (Kansas) Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.

Byron is innocent until proven guilty.

Kansas City T-Bones announce 2015 promotions and giveaways

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – As the Kansas City T-Bones prepare for their home opener on Friday, May 22, the club has announced its promotions and events schedule for the 2015 season.

For 2015, the nightly promotions and ways to save on tickets have returned, along with a large offering of giveaways and special guests.

“Our promotions staff, including Joe Goll and Jeff Husted, has come up with some great new ideas, you’ll see a return of the fan favorites, plus we have reached back in the vault to bring back some fun nights from our history,” said T-Bones vice-president and general manager Chris Browne. “Included in that, we’re working on a nightly steak and beer special like in our early years. I think the fans are going to like it. I’m looking forward to ‘Fun…Well Done’ at CommunityAmerica Ballpark this summer. Stay tuned!”

Besides free parking for every game, this season’s promotions and special events include:

SPECIAL GIVEAWAYS

T-Bones T-Shirt: On Opening Day, Friday, May 22, against Lincoln, the first 2,000 fans will receive a T-Bones T-shirt, presented by CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

T-Bones Magnet Schedule: On Tuesday, May 26 against Sioux City, the first 5,000 fans will receive a T-Bones Magnet Schedule, sponsored by Smile Generation.

T-Bones Cowbell: Heritage Tractor presents a T-Bones cowbell giveaway for the first 1,500 fans on Saturday, June 6 vs. Amarillo.

T-Bones Jersey: The ever-popular T-Bones jersey giveaway, sponsored by Savers, is Tuesday, July 7, for the first 2,000 adults, against Grand Prairie.

Jake Blackwood Bobblehead: On Tuesday, July 21 against Gary SouthShore, the first 2,000 fans will receive a bobblehead of Kansas City native and T-Bones player Jake Blackwood, presented by CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

Youth Jersey: The first 1,000 kids 12 and under on Sunday, July 26 against Winnipeg, will receive a special T-Bones jersey sponsored by Savers.

T-Bones Hat: On Tuesday, August 18 vs. Amarillo, the first 2,000 fans will receive a T-Bones hat, sponsored by Sheet Metal Local #2. (Incidentally, that happens to be the return of our popular “Elvis Tribute Night.”)

T-Bones Helmet: Bringing back an old-school favorite, the first 1,500 fans at the game on Tuesday, September 1 against Laredo, will receive a plastic T-Bones replica helmet, presented by Safelite Autoglass.

SPECIAL APPEARANCES

Claudia Wells: On Friday, June 5, actress Claudia Wells, who played Michael J. Fox’s girlfriend Jennifer Parker in the movie “Back to the Future,” will be at CommunityAmerica Ballpark for “Back to the Future” Night, presented by Savers.

“Mr. Stinky Feet”: Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove will perform throughout the 11:05 a.m. game on Wednesday, July 8 against Grand Prairie.

Brian McRae: The Kansas City Royals’ No. 1 draft pick in 1985 and star centerfielder Brian McRae will make an appearance on Wednesday, July 22, as part of the Principal Financial Dreams Tour.

Buddy Biancalana: Royals 1985 World Series hero (and former David Letterman guest) Buddy Biancalana will be at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Friday, August 7, as the T-Bones celebrate the 1980s.

NIGHTLY PROMOTIONS

Monday: Kids eat free by CommunityAmerica Credit Union. The first 2,000 kids 12 and under receive a voucher for a free hot dog, bag of chips and lemonade.

Tuesday: Giveaway nights and beer specials.

Wednesday: Post-game catch on the field by Coventry Health Care; Price Chopper Wednesdays: Show your Price Chopper Card and receive a GA/Berm ticket for $2 off.

Thursday: “Throwdown Thursday” with $1.25 beers.

Friday: Appearance by the Falcon Skydiving Team.

Saturday: Post-game Fireworks by CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

Sunday: Pre-game player autographs by Savers; Savers Sundays: Show your Savers Club Card and receive $2 off Berm tickets; post-game kids run the bases by Price Chopper.

FIREWORKS

In addition to the fireworks every Saturday night, there will be Memorial Day fireworks after the game against Lincoln on Sunday, May 24; fireworks after the “CACU Members Night” game on Tuesday, June 9 vs. Fargo-Moorhead; and Independence Day weekend fireworks following the July 3 and 4 games against Gary SouthShore. In all, there will be 11 scheduled fireworks nights.

All of the above promotions, dates, and giveaways are subject to change. More great promotions and events are being developed. The current complete promotions list is attached or it can be seen at www.tbonesbaseball.com/promotions.

All tickets are on sale now by calling the Providence Medical Center Box Office at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 913-328-5618.