October 31, 2014

Eastern Iowa man sentenced to 75 years in prison for fatal accident

A man who was driving a truck that hit a car, killing three people from Cedar Rapids in August of last year, was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison. Authorities said 40-year-old Raul Salazar was driving near Keystone when he blew through a stop sign and hit a car traveling on Highway 30.

All three people in the car were killed; 22-year-old Valerie Schneiders, her boyfriend 24-year-old Jason Bessert, and his 3-year-old daughter Hailey Bessert. Benton County Sheriff’s deputies said Salazar was driving drunk and after the collision, he and a passenger were seen throwing beer bottles from the truck into a nearby cornfield in an effort to conceal evidence.

In September, Salazar agreed to a plea deal that dropped charges of OWI and preventing apprehension. On Thursday, a judge ordered Salazar to serve 25 years in prison for each of three counts of vehicular homicide, to be served consecutively.


Tipton man cashes Powerball winner one day before his birthday

Kelly Glynn

Kelly Glynn

An eastern Iowa man has finally claimed a $10,000 lottery ticket that was purchased for a Powerball drawing back on January 22nd. For the past nine months, Kelly Glynn of Tipton says only he and one other person knew he was holding the valuable ticket.

“The only person who knew was my mom,” Glynn said. Even Glynn’s two children, ages 11 and 7, didn’t know. Glynn, who turns 48-years-old tomorrow (Friday), finally claimed the $10,000 prize on Wednesday. So, why did he wait so long?

“I just thought I’d save it until around my birthday,” Glynn said. “I didn’t know if I’d want anything or need anything. I just thought it’d be a nice birthday present.” Glynn purchased the winning ticket at the Family Foods store in Tipton.

Since May, a lottery poster has been hanging in the store, advertising the unclaimed prize. “Yep, I’ve been looking at (the poster) every time I go in there,” Glynn said. “They’ll be able to finally take it down.”

It’s the second time a sizeable winning Powerball ticket mystery has been solved in the town of Tipton this year. A $1 million winning ticket, purchased at a convenience store in Tipton last November, went unclaimed for several months. Iowa Lottery officials held a news conference in Tipton in May to spread the word about the unclaimed prizes.

Richard Watson of Belton, Missouri claimed the $1 million prize just a few days after the news conference.

Anamosa woman dies in accident on Highway 151

A woman was killed Wednesday in a traffic accident in eastern Iowa’s Jones County. The crash happened just before 5 p.m. on Highway 151 near Anamosa. According to an Iowa State Patrol report, 79-year-old Mary Goldsmith of Anamosa was driving a car and failed to yield at an intersection. She pulled into the path of an oncoming semi, which broadsided her car. Goldsmith died in the crash.

The semi driver, 34-year-old Anthony Simmons of Marion, was injured. A condition report on him is not available.


Iowa Policy Project report says state work support programs lacking

ipp-logoA new report from the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) finds many work-support policies for low-income Iowa families are presenting barriers to those families moving out of poverty. IPP research director Peter Fisher says the “basic needs” cost of living for an Iowa family is two to three times higher than federal poverty guidelines.

“Therein lies the problem, because most public benefit programs, including these work supports, are geared to the official federal poverty guidelines and most of them cut off benefits well before that self-sufficiency wage is reached,” Fisher says. This is the last of three reports on “The Cost of Living in Iowa” issued by IPP this year.

An earlier report stated 1 in 6 Iowa households do not earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living. Fisher says programs, such as Child Care Assistance, have “cliff effects.” Eligibility for the program vanishes when an family makes just 145-percent of the federal poverty level, which is very low, according to Fisher.

“That’s a huge penalty to take for someone who’s in a low-wage job, find they can work more hours or get an opportunity to get a better job, they can find themselves in a position of making their families worse off by earning more money because they would lose all of that child care assistance,” Fisher says. “We have one of the lowest eligibility ceilings in the country at 145-percent of poverty. Many states go to 200-percent of poverty or close to it.”

The IPP report recommends several reforms to Iowa’s work-support policies, such as raising the eligibility for the Child Care Assistance program to 200-percent of the poverty level and implementing a copay schedule that “eases people off the program” as their income rises.



Shenandoah man arrested in 2009 death of girlfriend

Brian Davis

Brian Davis

State investigators believe they’ve solved a more than five-year-old murder case in southwest Iowa. Iowa DCI Special Agent in Charge Darrell Simmons says a Shenandoah man was arrested this afternoon for the July 2009 shooting death of 29-year-old Holly Durben.

Simmons says 34-year-old Brian Davis was Durben’s boyfriend. Davis was long considered the prime suspect, but Simmons says new evidence just recently surfaced that will give prosecutors a more solid case.

“We’re not releasing that information. There was just some further investigating that occurred. I guess I really don’t want to go too much into that at this time,” Simmons said.

Brian Davis had placed the 911 call on July 18, 2009 and responding officers found Holly Durben dead in her home, which she shared with Davis. An autopsy determined Durben was shot in the head and had other injuries.

Davis is now being held at the Fremont County Jail on a one-million dollar cash bond.


Senator Grassley examines IRS tactics in Iowa restaurant case

Chuck Grassley (file photo)

Chuck Grassley (file photo)

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s looking into the federal government’s use of civil forfeiture laws after learning how the IRS seized the bank account of a restaurant owner in northwest Iowa.

The Republican served on the IRS Restructuring Commission, which sought to end the agency’s “harassment” of small businesses back in 1998.

“Well, here we are 15 years later and we’re still messing around with the same problems,” Grassley says. In May 2013, the IRS seized almost $33,000 from Carole Hinders, who has operated Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food in Arnolds Park for 38 years. The restaurant only accepts cash and the IRS used civil forfeiture to seize Hinders’ bank account, claiming by making small deposits, she was evading a federal law that requires banks to report cash deposits greater than $10,000.

Officials with the IRS have responded to Grassley’s inquiry about the matter. “They say that they’re going to reconsider their policy and maybe make some changes,” Grassley says. The Washington, DC-based Institute for Justice is helping Hinders with her case. The law firm reports federal law enforcement agencies — using civil forfeiture — can take cash, cars and other property without charging the property owner with a crime.

Grassley says the IRS plays a role in fighting money laundering and other criminal activity, but it should treat business owners fairly.

“Maybe the IRS is smart enough to correct their own silly actions that they’re taking, but whatever the case is, we’ve got to be on top of the IRS once again,” Grassley says.

The 67-year-old Hinders, who describes her last year as “Hell,” has borrowed money and used credit cards to pay bills and keep her restaurant in business. The New York Times recently featured a story about Hinders’ plight on its front page.



Fertilizer company decides to build in Illinois over Iowa

Cronus-Chemicals-logoIowa is no longer in the running to land a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant. Tina Hoffman is spokesperson for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Just within the last couple of days, we were officially notified that the company had selected a location outside of the state,” Hoffman says. Officials with Cronus Chemicals have chosen Tuscola, Illinois as the site for the plant.

The company had also been considering a site in northern Iowa’s Mitchell County. “For the last few months, we really haven’t been competing for the project,” Hoffman said. “It really just didn’t seem like the best fit for Iowa, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.”

Cronus had initially looked at dozens of potential sites in nine states, but narrowed the decision down to Illinois or Iowa. The Tuscola location is roughly two-and-a-half hours south of the company’s headquarters in Chicago.

Iowa already has two massive fertilizer projects in the works. Egypt-based Orascom is behind a $1.8 billion Iowa Fertilizer Company plant under construction in southeast Iowa’s Lee County. CF Industries, located near Sioux City, is building a $1.7 billion expansion to its fertilizer plant.